Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Complete History of America (Abridged)"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey

Historical Hysteria

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

The creators of the wacky "Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) have done the same thing for U.S. History, called --- erroneously as Canada is completely left out) "The Complete History of America (Abridged)". Adam long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor came back to Boston with both shows via A.R.T. sponsorship a few ears back. My memory of their performances is that they labored furiously in service of the material ... and all that effort showed.

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston version features Phillip Patrone and Neil Casey --- veteran funnymen who have infused many a Lyric show with their delightful shenanigans --- and newcomer Christopher Thorn. The good news is that Daniel Gidron's production benefits from the ease with which the three deliver the sophomoric jokes. Terrible puns just roll off their backs. Spit-takes are mother's milk to these cutups. Casey can make anything silly --- especially the word "persnickety" for some reason --- even without a Benjamin Franklin wig.

Patrone is so corny he gives himself the hook with his own cane! And Thorn is fetching, resplendent even, in drag. But is it funny? Well, some of it is. But if --- as in that old line "Aside from the assassination, Mrs. Lincoln, did you like the show?" --- comedy is "tragedy plus time" then some of this history is too recent to be funny, like dead kids, and AIDS.

Gail Astrid Buckley's spiffy costumes are a grand improvement over the originals --- which were quite cheesy, I recall --- and Brynna Bloomfield's timeline is clever; but WHO is that woman who represents 1998?

Now that "The Complete History" and "The Complete Shakespeare" have been done by several companies in the area, why doesn't someone do Christopher Durang's "A History of The American Film"? It's a hoot from start to finish, with no letup in momentum. Of course, no one has yet done Isaac Walton's "The Compleat Angler" yet either....

"The Complete History of America (Abridged)" (till 3 February)
140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON

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