The Complete History of America (Abridged)
Directed by Eric Hissom
Staring Philip Nolan, Tom Taylor, Richard B Watson
Orlando UCF Shakespeare Festival
Listen, my students, and you shall hear the white male Eurocentric view of American History fade from ear. Hardly a man is now alive who doesn’t know the Aboriginal Feminyst View of Color Jive. However, winners get to write the jokes, and those wacky white dudes have nothing to fear. Sure, we know the Indians discovered Columbus, Ohio, but do we know white rap music originated in Jamestown? The Benedict Arnold Report certainly made the single bullet theory SEEM a likely explanation of the Boston Massacre, but do any of you realize the almost negligible contribution Noam Chomsky has made to the American way? Can you even spell “Chomsky”? I thought not.
Three hard working actors (Nolan, Taylor, and Watson, 3 white bread names if ever you heard them) put on a frenetic synopsis of how we became who we sorta are. Two hours is hardly enough time to grasp the rich panoply of American History, unless you leave out all that boring stuff like dates and the Monroe Doctrine and who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb, and just focus on the funny stuff. You know, Lincoln’s assassination, WWI, Vietnam, Dick Nixon. All comedic forms get a work out, and this history runs on the principle that if you tell enough jokes fast enough, people will forget to not laugh at the bad ones.
Sets and props are a bare minimum, which helps prevent injury to the cast and audience, although a few of the high rollers in the patrons section will face a dry cleaning tab in the morning. A very few preachy/depressing moments were tossed in, mostly out of guilt for species-centricity. A feeling of improv permeates the show, up to the point of asking the audience for questions and improvising the answers. As Ben Franklin once said, you can lead a whore to culture, but if you can make love to her standing up in a hammock, you’re really good. These guys mastered the hammock.