Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) at the Kennedy Center

From the hallowed halls of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, three intrepid RSCPN sports reporters, Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy and Reed Martin dare to achieve what no fool has attempted afore in this or any other lifetime...they attempt to condense in four short quarters, two halves, nay, the play heard 'round the world, The Complete World of Sports (abridged).

The Thespian has had the privilege of being exposed to the Reduced Shakespeare Company's brilliant repartee and has seen many of their previous madcap abridgments, including The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),The Complete History of America (Abridged), The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), All the Great Books (Abridged) and Completely Hollywood (Abridged).   The Thespian viewed their newest work, The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) this past fall in Richmond, Virginia.   At that time, the show was in an emerging work. The dialogue, gags, and vignettes were in place, but there were moments that needed the repetition of performance in front of many different audiences to hone and shape this two hours traffic upon the stage.

So, has The Complete World of Sports (abridged) improved.    Is it a home run, gooooal, touchdown, unhorsing (that's joust talk), perfect 10, or any of a number of sports cliches?   The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is at its heart, a fun, high-energy marathon through the ages.   While not a linear journey through the history of sports the show is broken down into categories and continents and divided amongst the four quarters of the evening.   Our intrepid RSCPN reporters  bring laughter, groans, cheers, winces and smiles as they charge through an incredible array of sporting events. If you think of an obscure sport they probably cover it in the show, or a close cousin of the sport.   They even cover cheese wheel rolling, a proud English sport with a very violent history.

Without giving too much of the evening's entertainment away, highlights include the invention of sports from the dawn of mankind, golf, insane sports mostly invented in the British Isles, women's sports history, the Olympics and a marvelous mad dash finale that will leave the audience breathless and in need of a hit from Reed Martin's ever present inhaler. 

The persevering performers sweat, strain and literally risk life and limbs to entertain their audience.   Austin Tichenor brings his razor sharp wit and charm as he fences his way to victory. Reed Martin uses all of the skills he learned as a graduate of The Bill Kinnamon School of Professional Umpire Training and Ringling Bros. Clown College as he plows through a defense that crumbles in front of his Heisman worthy offense.   And Matt Rippy, not only is he the heartthrob, he has no right to be that graceful in rhythmic gymnastics.    All three easily deliver gold medal performances.

Being that The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is quite literally a brand-new show, there are some growing pains to get through as the "Bad Boys of Abridgment" (quoted from the program) polish and perfect this athletic gem.    A few of the transitions, mostly in the first half of the show seem a bit abrupt. The use of blackouts for endings of scenes is less abrupt than it was in Richmond, yet still occasionally appear too abrupt. Despite these minor quibbles, The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is clearly on par with the many quality shows this company has reduced since 1981.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts through July 24, 2011.  They will continue to perform The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) in many venues in the fall of 2011.   Please visit their website for performance dates and locations.    

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