It seems almost redundant to satirize the movie biz, since Hollywood does a pretty fine job already rendering itself absurd. However, this should not deter you from wallowing in the celluloid craziness of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s show Completely Hollywood (abridged).
Conceived in 2005, this loopy look at Tinseltown from “the bad boys of abridgement” is new to the Washington area (and includes references to newish movies like Avatar) and should delight fans of their previous revues The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The History of the World (abridged), and The Bible (abridged)—a personal favorite, with act one detailing the Old Testament and act two taking on the New Testament.
The three-man comedy troupe—Dominic Conti, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor— race through 197 great Hollywood movies in less time than it takes to watch Titanic. This, they accomplish not with CGI, but through the employment of hilariously low-tech special effects.
Their idea of 3-D is turning off the lights and waving flashlights while yelling “3-D! 3-D!” and films are announced by Dominic Conti sticking his head through a hole in a placard and roaring like the MGM lion. One hooty hybrid movie—a combination of Jane Austen and action flicks titled Darcy’s Angels–features a dramatic chase scene where the bonnet-clad heroine (actually, a doll) is dropped unceremoniously into a pail of water.
While the show is rife with physical humor, the wordplay is what has you grinning like an idiot, as the trio comes up with such everything-old-is-new-again combinations as Singin’ in the Rainman, My Left Footloose, and Taxi Driving Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy and Robert De Niro like you’ve never seen them before!).
The first half is dedicated to running through the rules of Hollywood–#4: Fill Your Movie with Beautiful Stars, #8 Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Movie, #11 There Are Only Two Movie Plots, for example—and the second part puts all the maxims together in a potential blockbuster that teams a sci-fi Western with a socially conscious documentary and a bio-pic about tennis star Ivan Lendl. Only the Reduced Shakespeare Company could make a harebrained idea like this not only palatable, but entertaining.
Completely Hollywood features good-natured goofiness about the American industry we love to hate (it rivals only weapons as the country’s largest export) and it is largely family-friendly, especially if the kiddies think grabbing one’s crotch either in pain or protectiveness is the height of hilarity.
One quibble about the show—why no popcorn?
Completely Hollywood (abridged)
written by The Reduced Shakespeare Company
presented by the Kennedy Center
reviewed by Jayne Blanchard
Completely Hollywood (abridged) runs thru July 11, 2010.
For Details, Directions and Tickets, click here.
COMPLETELY HOLLYWOOD ABRIDGED
Celia Wren . Washington Post