Aydin Chester, Madison Kennedy Zinner & Joshua Van Nort in
The Complete History of America (abridged). Photo: Little Colonel.


The Complete History of America (abridged)

By Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor
Directed by Patrick Holifield

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

These “abridged” shows from The Reduced Shakespeare Company, or the “Bad Boys of Abridgement” as Wikipedia describes them, are in theory surefire audience pleasers, with their highly irreverent approach to stuffing oversize subjects into a swift and funny 90 minutes. They also look easy, although it takes a certain kind of anarchic talent to pull them off. In other shows they have madly encapsulated the plays of Shakespeare and The Bible.

The sacred cow offered up in this show is nothing less than the entire history of America, and though the play is all in good fun, it cannot help but resonate with recent events that are causing a closer examination of specific threads in our history and what a particular flag truly represents.

But mostly it is deeply silly, with injections of thoughtful satire and more current references (the script is occasionally updated by the authors, and some degree of improvisation is encouraged). Four young actors from the summer program at Little Colonel Playhouse form the ensemble, and the cheeky, know-everything-about-life-by-sixteen insolence of youth is allowed to inform the performance in positive ways.

Youth also explains a certain degree of over-earnestness in the playing, but for the most part they do a fine job and do well by the material. My sense is that there was less improvisation than I have seen in other productions, so that the fluid and funny text is allowed to shine. Aydin Chester and Madison Kennedy Zinner were the more inventive and authoritative of the quartet, but Julia Spurrier and Joshua Van Nort also had impactful moments. There were also a few moments where the dialogue could have been louder, and the fact that this was mostly true during the second act points to questions of pace and energy in the individual performances. Whatever else, all four seemed to be having fun, which is perhaps most important in a show like this.

Overall, this is a bright and entertaining production of a funny script that is always topical in how it calls attention to certain aspects of the American character: namely, a lack of self-awareness and an ability to lose touch with our history and heritage.

The Complete History of America (abridged)

July 23, 24 & 25 @ 8:00pm
July 26 @ 2:30pm

Adults – $10 Students – $7

Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mount Mercy Drive
Pewee Valley, Kentucky 40056


Keith[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.[/box_light]