American history in 90 minutes

By Sable Stevens

An all male three-person cast will play characters from former
presidents to important females in American history in the main
stage play “The Complete History of America, (abridged),” opening
Friday at the University Theatre at 8 p.m.

The creators of The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Adam Long, Reed
Martin and Austin Tichenor wrote the play. The RCS is famous for
its first three shows, “The Complete Works of Shakespeare
(abridged),” “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” and
“The Complete History of America (abridged),” which ran for nine
years at the Criterion Theatre in Westminster, London.

The play is a 90-minute run through of sketches that covers
controversial topics that have tainted America’s history. It also
incorporates puns and crude parody where no historic figure or
topic is sacred. It is designed to be performed by three actors,
each playing 10 or 15 parts in the play.

“The play uses a lot of different styles of theatre; comedic
ones [and is] very physical [with] a lot of low humor, puns and
vaudeville and radio drama and film noir,” said Bernardo Solano,
the director of the show and associate director of the theatre
department. “All these different genres of movies and plays and
performances are melded together.”

The audience can expect to see actors Devin Caldarone, Mauricio
Soto and Robert Shields perform as former presidents George
Washington, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The
RCS’s three-person portrayal of the history of America proved
challenging for one of the leads.

“[A] challenge within this whole process is we are playing
ourselves in the play,” said Mauricio Soto, a fourth-year theater
student and actor in the play. “This play is kind of hard because
you have to take parts of yourself and pick and chose what parts
are going to work for this play. It’s a caricature of

Each actor will introduce themselves as their true persona, and
then go into character as the play progresses, often including the
audience in interactive parts.

“We don’t ever announce to the audience ‘I’m going to be this
character,’ it just happens,” said Soto. “Every segment is a little
bit of a surprise because the audience does not know what we are
going to do next. That is part of the fun because the audience
doesn’t know what is coming.”

The play promises to keep the actors, physically busy.

“The three of us are running around the whole time,” said Soto.
“There is no down time for us, that is part of the fun of this

The director agrees with the physical aspect of the show, as
well as its appeal.

“A lot of [the] fun of this play is watching these actors
transform from one character to another character; it is non-stop
action in that way,” said Solano.

Action and humor are not the only components to the show,
especially with history as the focal point.

“It has a particular sort of political sensibility to it that is
critical of where the country has gone in some ways,” said Solano.
“The play is quick to point out all those mistakes we have made as
a country too, so it is history along with a point of view about
American history.”

The show runs Feb. 26, 27, March 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m., with
matinees March 3 at 10 a.m., and March 7 at 2 p.m. at the
University Theatre. Student tickets are $10.

Reach Sable Stevens at:

American history in 90 minutes

Courtesy of the University Theatre

American history in 90 minutes

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