Go ‘Completely Hollywood’ at Edison

Reduced Shakespeare Company returns with homage to film industry

They’ve shortened Shakespeare, abbreviated the Bible and compacted Western civilization. Now the Reduced Shakespeare Company, those world-renowned “bad boys of abridgement,” return to St. Louis with “Completely Hollywood (abridged),” an epic edit of movie masterpieces.

Written by company stalwarts Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, the show centers on a trio of egotistical Tinseltown players — the pompous Writer, whose 500-page opus critiques Hollywood cultural imperialism; the pandering Director, whose ideas run more to explosions and car chases; and the narcissistic Actor, who spends his time practicing Oscar acceptance speeches — as they squabble their way to cinematic greatness.

Mayhem ensues among the Writer, the Director and the Actor, the three main characters in Reduced Shakespeare Company's
Mayhem ensues among the Writer, the Director and the Actor, the three main characters in Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “Completely Hollywood (abridged).” The show is presented by the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series Oct. 26-27.

Amidst a flurry of arguments, one-liners and dubious Hollywood wisdom, these three would-be auteurs explain classic laws of filmmaking, such as “every movie is a remake or a combination of two earlier movies.” (For example, “Unforgiven” plus “The Birdcage” equals “Brokeback Mountain.”) Yet after fielding a handful of pitches — including “Ghandi With the Wind” and “Darcy’s Angels,” a Jane Austen Kung Fu flick — these cinematic savants decide to combine all the greatest movies into a single film.

The resulting (and hilarious) mess, which they describe as “epic, commercial, but with a message,” splices and dices 100 years of movie history from “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane” to “Rocky,” “Star Wars,” “Titanic” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Since starting out in 1981 as a pass-the-hat act at California Renaissance fairs, the Reduced Shakespeare Company has created five major stage shows, four television programs and numerous radio pieces.

The New York Times describes the company as “smart, cheeky clowns who present themselves as a collective repository for most of American mass culture,” while the BBC praises its current show, “Completely Hollywood,” as “a hilarious and speedy take on Hollywood’s highs and lows — an instant classic.” This show marks the acting company’s fourth trip to Edison Theatre, following “All the Great Books” in 2004; “Western Civilization” in 1999 and “The Bible” in 1996.

Performances, presented by the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series, begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call 935-6543 or visit edison.wustl.edu.