Twenty-three years ago, three irreverent wags devised a breakneck evening of comedy, The Compleat Wrks of Wlm Shkspr (Abridged), which mercilessly spoofed the timeless works of the Bard yet — here’s the inspired part — required almost no knowledge of his plays and characters.
No wonder it became an international hit, spawning subsequent giggle fests about the Bible, American history and sports, all from a madcap collective dubbed the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Current members Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor and Dominic Conti have gone to that well again, setting their sights on the lunacy of Tinseltown. The result is an evening of shameless silliness known as Completely Hollywood (Abridged).
Brought to the area by Plantation’s Mosaic Theatre, which has made its reputation on more serious material, the company demonstrates that it can deliver manic wackiness as well as the dour stuff. And broad comedy is probably just what audiences are hungering for about now.
Like the other RSC shows, Completely Hollywood packs more wincing one-liners and groan-worthy puns per minute than imaginable. There are some clever minds at work here, but one could easily see the jokes fizzling without a trio of verbally and physically nimble performers. Fortunately, Mosaic director Richard Jay Simon has them in Erik Fabregat, Antonio Amadeo and Christian Rockwell, frequently seen here, but never given quite as much free rein to cavort, mug and pander for laughs as they are here.
On the theory that any joke is funnier if delivered in women’s clothing and a high, squeaky voice, these three do not hesitate to don skirts and wigs. Some gags still lay there like a lox, but it does suggest the lengths they will go to for a giggle. Each has plenty of solo standout moments, notably Amadeo’s verbal diarrhea spurts, Fabregat’s Dorothy Gale and Rockwell’s sly impersonation of Oscar winner Al Gore.
As was the case with the Wlm Shkspr show, which sprinted through all 37 of Will’s plays, however briefly, the Mosaic cast boasts up front that it will deal with 197 of the greatest movies of all time. And perhaps they do, at least through name-dropping or invoking a stray iconic line of dialogue, but chances you will be too busy laughing to keep a running count.
For the audience’s education, the guys also slip in a dozen pithy rules of the movie industry. Like “Show it, don’t say it,” and “There are only two movie plots: coming-of-age and fish-out-of-water.” Best was the notion that every movie is a combination of two other movies, illustrated by the unlikely merger of Akira Kurosawa and Walt Disney to produce Snow White and the Seven Samurai. Or the intersection of Jane Austen and Drew Barrymore vehicles, producing Darcy’s Angels.
If anything, Completely Hollywood overstays its welcome a bit and is padded with some audience participation skits, in which a few game volunteers get immersed in the onstage shenanigans. No doubt some people find this amusing, but it smacks of filler.
Douglas Grinn contributes a simple, but attractive scenic design of film-strip silhouettes of recognizable Hollywood characters, from Rocky Balboa to E.T. And do not miss the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars celebrating Fabregat, Amadeo and Rockwell on the floor in front of the stage. Nice touch.
Completely Hollywood is not for those who want trenchant drama or even tidy comedy. But everyone else is likely to have a very entertaining time.
COMPLETELY HOLLYWOOD (ABRIDGED), Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. Continuing through Oct. 3. Tickets: $37. Call: (954) 577-8243.