by Adam Long, Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor
Directed by Robert Currier
You just couldn’t ask for a better cast. Seriously. Or not so seriously, as the case may be.
Darren Bridgett has stolen the hearts of Marin Shakespeare audience members for years with his comedy and audience interaction. But a huge part of his skill and charisma come from his exceptional ability as a comic collaborator. He always makes the other actors onstage look good and audiences feel good. Whether he’s playing a hardened soldier with trench mouth, a hardboiled detective on acid, or a hardly visible minute man (a better lover than you might think), Darren makes hard work (and his acting partners) look easy.
Darren and Bob Currier are long-time collaborators. Bob reported he never had so much fun in rehearsal in his life as working on this show. The board then decided to cut his salary.
Mick Mize, who we’d never seen onstage or heard of before in our lives, walked into our open auditions and walked away with the role of — himself. A year later, Mick has been scooped up by Cirque du Soleil and is off on a national tour, taking his clowning skills, vaudeville moves, and Vietnamese accent with him. You go, girl!
And what a joy to welcome beloved Bay Area comic icon Cassidy Brown to the Forest Meadows stage. The stage may never be the same again.
— Lesley Schisgall Currier
From the Playbill:
Capitalizing on the tremendous international success of their first collaborative effort, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), forged in the 1980’s at Marin’s Black Point Renaissance Faire, our dynamic trio of U.C. Berkeley grads and Ren Faire geeks have created a veritable cottage industry. Since reducing Shakespeare’s canon to two hours, they have gone on to boil down the Bible, Sports, Great Literature, and American History into similar simmering reductions in the same spirit of misguided, irreverent earnestness that has become their trademark, much to our delight.
If you’ve followed Marin Shakes over the past two decades, you’ll know we’ve presented The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) four times, so our hysterical historians may feel as familiar to you as if they were sitting next to you, sharing your glass of wine (which, well, they may actually be doing). If you’ve followed theatre around the world, you’ll know how hard it is to escape from these reduced ridiculators.
They ran in London’s West End for over a decade. Lesley and I saw Las Obras Completas de Guillermo Shakespeare in Barcelona. It is by far the most successful theatre piece ever to come out of Marin County.
The main lesson we’ve learned from history is that we never learn anything from history. Only the costumes change… and rapidly in this case. Civilizations rise and fall, great men and women strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then, in most cases, are heard no more. That is, unless some curious players with a trunk of wigs put them back on stage… and charge admission!
We hope you’ll enjoy our take on our mutual American story, always appreciating the fact that we live in a land where free speech, even if irreverent, is tolerated, even cherished, and hopefully laughed at – as long as you don’t shout “Fire!” in our theatre.
– Robert Currier
From the Critics:
“…the production directed by Marin Shakes artistic director Robert Currier has a particularly sharp cast in Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize….Mize is the hapless, earnest underdog, the self-described ‘moron with a dream’ doomed to sit at the kiddie table. Bridgett displays a sly, sardonic air and a mischievous streak a mile long, and Brown has a winning sense of incredulous dignity and a knack for priceless impersonations….
Mark Robinson’s set is basically an oversize changing screen with a large backdrop hung on it depicting a Revolutionary War battle with light sabers, Whoopi Goldberg as the Statue of Liberty, Bush and Cheney as Beavis and Butt-Head, et cetera.
Costumer Michael Berg decks the guys out in flag-print vests in the first half and various combinations of red, white or blue T-shirts and shorts in the second, with countless accoutrements to indicate particular characters or eras…
The best thing about a play like this is that it gives the performers tremendous freedom to ad lib — in fact some segments of the show demand it — and some of the riffs on flubs, missed cues and car alarms are funnier than the scripted material….
it’s a rollicking, perfectly entertaining bit of theatrical fluff.”
– Sam Hurwitt, Marin Independent Journal
“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….
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)….
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!”
– Flora Lynn Isaacson, For All Events
“HISTORY OF AMERICA (Abridged) at Marin Shakespeare Company a hit!
A new comedy trio with intellect is born that would make the Marx Brothers proud and envious. Marin Shakespeare Company is back on track with a hilarious remounting of The Complete History of America (Abridged) for the second offering in their 21st season. You have to see it to believe it. Three topnotch actors cavort on simple rag-tag stage creating a myriad of characters/events that were part of the history of America with a pastiche of skits, embellished with slapstick humor, outrageous costumes and satirical innuendo under the tongue-in-cheek direction of Robert Currier who probably gave free reign to his cast….
The three actors are all excellent as they run rampant through the reams of dialog. They work together like a well oiled machine even when Darren fell into a defective stage trap door; our intrepid trio never drops a line. It seems fortuitous that is was MSC favorite Darren Bridgett who is adept at physical comedy could recover quickly to the delight of his adoring fans. He was not injured and his cohort Cassidy Brown, quipped to the audience ‘He will be removing splinters after the show.’ This emphasizes the point that the authors have left room in the scripted dialog for the actors and director to insert local and topical references and they do this frequently to the delight of many. Darren gets his trademark excursion into the audience and there is even a history quiz with audience participation.
Their energy, comic timing and versatility are amazing and each gets their turn in the limelight. Cassidy Brown can be considered the ‘straight man’ that is necessary for any vaudevillian act and he is an excellent match and foil for the others. Darren Bridgett is the leader/instigator of the action and handles the job with authority and style. It was W.C. Fields who advised aspiring actors to avoid being on the same stage with children. Darren should heed that warning and not share a stage with Mick Mize. Mize invests his role(s) with deadpan humor and body language timing whether he is in drag (as he often is) or giving us a nonsensical film noir lecture that is often interrupted (humorously) by Cassidy Brown and Darren.
Last but not least, the entire production crew deserves a bouquet of flowers for the huge number of props, costumes and wigs etc. that are terrific adding to enjoyment of the highly recommended production.”
Kedar K. Adour, MD, www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com.
Well this is a new experience. I went into the opening for The Complete History of America (Abridged) expecting something more akin to a standard comedic play (I have never seen any of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s work). What I learned was that this is much more like a stand up routine that happens to have a script behind it. Which in this case, is not a bad thing at all. In fact, I can safely say that it was one of the most enjoyable theater experiences I have had in a long time….
This will probably be the easiest review I have ever had to write. Roughly twenty or thirty minutes into the first act, I noticed that I was hardly writing any notes down, and realized this is not the type of play that you deeply analyze and critique. You simply enjoy it. The brightly colored, yet minimalistic set served as a nice backdrop for the action, and the occasional sound queues set up some very funny bits and jokes.
The three actors (Mick Mize, Darren Bridgett and Cassidy Brown), are fine comedic actors with impeccable timing, and did a glorious job of playing off the audience, each other, and the occasional mishap (Bridgett’s accidental fall through a trap door was a particularly funny, though unintentional, moment).
The only people I wouldn’t recommend this play to, are those who take themselves, and their country, too seriously or those who can’t take a joke. “
– Paul Webb, For All Events
Under the trees in San Rafael, their newest play The Complete History of America (abridged) is a slapstick recounting of events with only coincidental relationship to the facts. The energy of the three players keeps the timeline churning with many costume quick-changes ranging from Ben Franklin to Obama.
Creator and original cast member Reed Martin of Sonoma updated this production by taking out Bill Clinton and adding W. Bush and Obama. The use of anachronisms in this ten-year-old parody of our culture keeps it fresh and current. Reed says, ‘In all of our shows we include places to insert local and topical references.’
The breathless cast of local actors found every one of those places and inserted some digs at Berkeley and some unexpected mockery of each other. They are very good at keeping focused on non-scripted banter. A persistent car alarm turned into fodder for laughs. Even a major technical glitch couldn’t stop them. One actor accidentally took a prat fall but carried on like a trouper, giving rise to jokes about splinters.
Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize create an array of familiar characters against a colorful background. They work together quickly and seamlessly as an improvisational team within the script. If an opportunity arises they slip in another joke.
From an opening scene about the name of our country to a choice of modern finales, the misguided humor is incisive.
– Albert Goodwyn, Examiner / SF Performing Arts Examiner
“’The Complete History of America’ is a full two-hour romp…director Robert Currier’s antic cast – Darren Bridgett, Mick Mize and Cassidy Brown is out to entertain…in this evening of slapstick history.”
Lee Brady, Pacific Sun
“….genuinely funny….Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize are just the talented actors needed for an improvised and wacky show like this, judging their audience as any good stand-up comedian would. This is a trio that is able to stall while someone changes costume, and tell you that they’re stalling, but still make it funny….a comedic tour de force.”
Kelly Dunleavy, San Anselmo – Fairfax Patch
“The Marin Shakespeare Festival’s revival of ‘The Complete History of America (abridged)’ is a show ideally suited for outdoor summer viewings and cleverly aimed at capturing the attention of a younger set….
That audience, young and old alike, is an integral part of the experience of this show. Almost uniquely among the offerings of Shakespeare companies, it bears mentioning that as a member of that audience, one should be prepared to get a little involved.
Props are tossed about, questions are posed, and cast members at times charge around like the rambunctious kids they mean to inspire.
It all contributes to an irresistible energy, and…it is quite impossible not to be entertained throughout and to await the next bit of tomfoolery with a kind of shocked fascination….
It…never fails to entertain, and is at best wise in its audacity and at least riveting in its energy.”
– Evan Wynns, EDGE San Francisco
“After attending the opening night of Marin Shakespeare Company’s The Complete History of America (abridged) I’m convinced that the one who tells the American story holds the key to its truth. And the version this production tells is definitely worth seeing!
Actors Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize under the direction of Robert Currier led the audience on a wild goose chase across the 200+ landscape of American history. Sitting beneath the stars at the Forest Meadows Amphitheater (Dominican University, San Rafael, CA) everyone was kept spell bound as the cast romped merrily from Amerigo Vespucci to President Barak Obama in less than two hours.
They held us captive as they zig-zagged into and out of American aspirations, ingenuity and inspirations. From start to finish, well-timed antics and patriotic colors framed this fast-paced production that ultimately showed us how Americans – a unique species on the planet – may not really be so different from their neighbors….
I have written before that the distance between folklore and history is not as vast as many would think. This play confirms for me that while history chronicles the data of events in a particular documented sequence (who did what when), it is the folklore – the beliefs, traditions and customs of a certain people – that actually fill in the blanks of our humanity.
The actors’ perfect timing and obvious chemistry captured the audience’s attention. Not a moment was wasted. Even my teenage daughter and her twenty-something cousin were kept in stitches as the scenes flew by, reminding all of us – regardless of our age – how we got from Vespucci’s map to President Obama’s bump and grind.”
– Karen Pierce Gonzalez, FolkHeart Press
“’America’s’ three cast members, Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize carry on the lunatic tradition with a combination of manic zeal and professional cool. They are ready for anything….
There is politics in this show, but that’s to be expected. There is also some raunchy humor from time to time….[It’s] fast, creative, and a zesty filling for Marin Shakespeare Company’s summer sandwich, playing in repertory between ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Tempest.’”
– Rosine Reynolds / The Ark
”It’s irreverent, clever and silly in its takes on America’s history.
Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize are three astoundingly talented actors who deliver madcap mayhem that is part script, part improvisation and all zaniness. When an onstage cymbal unexpectedly breaks off its chain, Bridgett can’t get it to gong anymore so he tosses it offstage, where it lands with a thud. He says, ‘heavy symbolism’ and waits for the laughs. He gets them….
Don’t sit in the first rows if you want to avoid a spray of water during the battle scenes, and remember the actors can hear you and will use your remarks as part of their ad-libs and zingers. It’s all great fun and the audience loves it.”
– Cari Pace-Koch, MarinScope
“Marin Shakespeare Company is giving their younger audience a break by presenting an updated version of Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor’s comical, impertinent three-man romp through the annals our country’s past. This is being performed by three of the zaniest comics in the Bay area: Darren Bridget, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize. As Darren Bridget tells the audience, ‘It’s not the length of your history but what you do with it.’
….The whole team is so versatile that they can morph instantly from one character to another, and their timing is impeccable.
Director Robert Currier has staged this tour de force extremely well, keeping the pace fast and furious. Mark Robinson’s set design is a funny take on a wall of historical figures that are fun to see. Costumes by Michael Berg, lighting by Ellen Brooks and props by Joel and Toni Eis add to the enjoyment of the show.
– Richard Connema, Talkin’ Broadway