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CSC Gets Back to School Early with “Complete History of America”

CSCCompleteHistoryImageQ: “What do you get when you cross three crazy actors and 5,000 years of American history?”

A: “The Complete History of America (Abridged)!”

Ba-dum-bum-CHING!

This production, having its regional premiere at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, is created by the same trio who created the wildly popular “The Complete History of Shakespeare (Abridged).” The basic premise is that there is much to be made fun of with respect to American history—and they deliver many very funny moments.

Having to cover 5,000 years of American history, playwrights Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor cover a lot of ground, but leave out some important elements of American history. I was surprised that they did not discuss the Westward expansion and taming of the frontier.  

This show delivers major laughs and the three CSC actors (veterans Justin McCombs and Miranda McGee and newcomer Goeffrey Barnes) are up to the challenge in poking fun at everything in American history, from Amerigo Vespucci’s role in naming the continents of North and South America to a slide show of the Civil War.

            Special praise goes to Justin McCombs, who was outstanding playing a large number of female roles in drag. There is one scene at the end of Act II where he comes on stage playing a seductive Madame Chiang-Kai-Shek that is a showstopper. Coming on stage, McCombs has this exaggerated cross-legged shashay that is completely hysterical.

            Fellow cast members Miranda McGee and Geoffrey Barnes also had their fair share of funny moments. I loved the premise given at the top of the show that McGee needed to do this play as extra credit for her to get her green card. It added more weight to the exploration of American history. Barnes does a very funny imitation of President Obama and shines with being the lead in the film noir review of the last thirty years of history.

            Despite the load of laughs, there were several jokes that fell flat which did not showcase these actors not nearly as well as they should have. I suspect that these problems with be corrected as the actors fine-tune the production over its run.

The Complete History of America (Abridged) is a great summer offering from Cincinnati Shakespeare. I hope that they reprise this play again next year, so that the production can grow to become even funnier the next time out.