Monthly Archive for: ‘December, 2014’
Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo
Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
Photos courtesy of Marin Theatre Company
Nouveau Vaudeville Meets Rambozo the Clown
Written, directed and performed by The Reduced Shakespeare Company (Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, with able-bodied help from Dominic Conti), “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)” is comedy for grown-ups – part primer, part clownfest, part tribute – clever, smart and funny, slyly deceptive and irreverent. First released on an unsuspecting Cincinnati audience in November 2013, it’s a series of loosely connected sketches built on the premise that Sun Tzu (pronounced Choo), author of “The Art of War”, had a brother named Ah Tzu who secretly wrote his own book, “The Art of Comedy”. The books’ parallels to theatre are clear: War is tragedy, after all, and comedy the eternal opposite. If war can destroy the world, comedy can save it.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company certainly knows how to make an impression. They’ve appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and theaters in Sonoma, New York City and London, garnering nominations for the Olivier Award, Helen Hayes Award and San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics CircleAwards. And they know how to get all the right kind of attention, too. Case in point: An earlier show, “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” was all set to perform in January 2014 in Northern Ireland when local public officials objected to the show’s “blasphemous” subject matter and voted to cancel it. The public demanded the show must go on, and go on it did. The uproar and publicity resulted in an even more successful run than any had imagined. The show was a smash hit in its UK tour.
These merry pranksters of the stage take their comedy very, very seriously, invoking the spirit of vaudeville and Saturday Night Live, with snippets of Commedia dell’Arte, Firesign Theatre, Chaplin, Seinfeld, Second City and Monty Python gleefully tossed into the mix. And the show includes a real slapstick (if you’ve never seen one in use, now’s your chance).
Occasionally brilliant, relentlessly intense, fast and furious pacing; the troupe makes good use of the entire stage. The three work as one unit, ricocheting lines – and cream pies – off of each other. No one is spared, and nearly every sacred cow is butchered. Audience participation and improv add to the fun. And if you don’t watch out, you just might learn something along the way, in between the belly laughs.
When: now through December 21, 2014
8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays
2 p.m. Saturday, December 20
Tickets: $37 to $58
Location: Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley CA 94941