A Hilarious Romp Through American History at Marin Shakespeare

Cassidy Brown, Mike Mize and Darren Bridgett in The Complete History of America (abridged)

With updated material recently written by Sonoma Playwright, Ed Martin, "The Complete History of America (abridged)" by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, opened July 30, 2011 at Marin Shakespeare Company's Forest Meadows Amphitheatre at Dominican University.  

It was a beautiful night. The audience entered the theatre to Billie Cox's patriotic music and were greeted by an ingenious set by Mark Robinson--a large poster-board covering the stage showing images highlighting events from 1492, 1776, 1861, 1942, 1952, 1969 and 2011.  

Directed by Robert Currier and produced by Leslie Schisgall Currier and featuring just three actors, The Complete History of America (abridged) is a roller coaster ride taking us through the entire course of American history with brilliant comedic genius.  As you can imagine, it is a wild ride with actors Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize.  The actors rely on accents, hats and wigs thrown on over patriotic clothes designed by Michael Berg, plastic vegetables, pasta and Super Soaker water guns (no matter where you sit you might get wet).  

Beginning with a bouncing globe and Amerigo Vespucci in Act I, Mick Mize showed off his ability to change accents on a dime.  He was also very funny in a Native American skit.  Both Darren Bridgett and Cassidy Brown serve as alternate narrators.  

One of the highlights of the show was showing rejected flags made by Betsy Ross and her sister.  A big hit was a song and dance vaudeville style of Lewis and Clark as they told the latest jokes of 1805.

When the planned slide show about the World Wars can't be done due to one of the actors breaking the projector (which is all part of the act including receiving the projector from a member of the audience) an absolutely hilarious "real" slide show follows.

Act I ended with a large timeline banner carried by the three actors throughout the audience in the spirit of fun.  Act II opened with World War I to the music of "Over There." This is when the audience really gets sprayed with water by the men in the trenches.  This is followed by a fabulous bit as the trio do a takeoff on the Andrews Sisters.  A highlight of Act II is the takeoff the three talented actors do to depict the Golden Age of Radio.  Cassidy Brown then comes into the audience for a question and answer session relating to Queen for a Day.  Next, Mick Mize appears in a strange Obama mask answering questions from the audience which show off his wonderful skill at improvisation.

Ending it all was an extended film noir segment featuring the talents of Bridgett as Detective Sam Diamond and Mick Mize in a wonderful impersonation of Lucy Ricardo.  The Complete History of America (abridged) requires the impeccable timing shown to advantage by the three talented actors.  Robert Currier shows much imagination and style in his inventive direction.

If you are looking for an evening of good fun, The Complete History of America (abridged) is worth your time. This show received a standing ovation! The Complete History of America (abridged) continues in repertory with Macbeth through September 25. Performances are held at 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday and 4 p.m. Sunday at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, 1475 Grand Avenue, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA. For tickets, call 415-499-4488 or go to www.marinshakespeare.org.

Coming up next at Marin Shakespeare will be William Shakespeare's The Tempest directed by Jon Tracy August 27-September 25, 2011.

Flora Lynn Isaacson