Curtains: Reduced Shakespeare's Completely Hollywood (Abridged) at Scottsdale's Theater 4301

Categories: Curtains

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Reduced Shakespeare Co.
The farce is with them: Dominic Conti and Jerry Kernion in Completely Hollywood (Abridged). (Note: Kernion does not appear in the current Valley production.)
I used to  assume that there simply is no men's dressing room at downtown Scottsdale's Theater 4301 -- it's the stomping ground of such perennials as Menopause The Musical and Sister's Christmas Catechism, as well as a cozy 2008 visit from Carrie Fisher and the upcoming Girls Night: The Musical. (So, not particularly testosterone-drenched, in my admittedly limited view.)

Turns out I was wrong, because the entertainment slot machine has produced a three-sausage jackpot with Completely Hollywood (Abridged), a touring show from the frantically prolific Reduced Shakespeare Company. This script, the troupe's sixth full-length stage show, is more rambling and less relentlessly witty than some of their earlier megametaworks, but the intimate setting and top-notch performances still provide plenty of laughs.

The premise of Completely Hollywood (Abridged) is that three L.A. types spend the first act setting out several tried-and-true rules of popular filmmaking while arguing the merits of their three very different screenplays, frequently lapsing into mini-parodies of famous films. After intermission (during which you can buy candy that actors will yell at you for eating -- fun!) they present a mashed-up epic incorporating everything we learned in Act I.

Some of this stuff is hysterical, some of it should have been left on the improv-room floor, but all of it is reeeeally short, so if you don't like something (or don't get it), wait three seconds. By the time the gentlemen take their bows, they've touched on 175 films and the career of Ivan Lendl. (And I just now got one of the jokes.)

If you're familiar with Reduced Shakespeare Company only from the DVD versions of a couple of their shows, e.g., The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), it's important to realize that they've become a vast entertainment empire with shows touring all over the world and also licensed to other companies (who often do a super job). While the Hollywood tour that's here now is an official RSC production, it stars three of a stable of (very good) actors whom you haven't seen on DVD -- yet.

The cast includes my new favorite actor in the whole world: Dominic Conti, a tall, slightly goofy man with astonishing, Bill Irwin-esque physical control. Sit in the first two rows at your own risk, because Conti won't hesitate to walk right out to you (like Spider-Man, as a castmate noted) for some planned or unplanned interaction. And the shallow, steeply raked house of Theater 4301 (a former IMAX theater, as I recall) is a great spot for this kind of small-cast, audience-involving show.

Michael Faulkner plays a handsome, somewhat poleaxed "movie star" type opposite Conti's frequent wig-and-skirt-bedecked heroine roles. Their chemistry, while far from romantic, is intricate and genuine. (Which is good, 'cause someone could put an eye out in a show this physical.) Mick Orfe goes from exasperated mogul to fiendish villain to wide-eyed ingenue at the drop of a hat, literally. And I applaud the carbon footprint of the show as a whole -- without appearing tacky, it looks as though you could pack the whole thing into a Camry.

Completely Hollywood (Abridged) runs through Sunday, April 5, at Theater 4301 in the Galleria Corporate Centre, Scottsdale. (It's hard to find if you're a first-timer -- look at Fifth Avenue and Drinkwater, across from Mickey's Hangover.) Tickets are $38 -- order here or call 480-994 ARTS (2787), extension 2.


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