/ The Houston Guide
Houston — By Christina Uticone on June 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Filed under: comedy, politics, theater

The Complete History of America (abridged)

theater, stages, play

Susan O. Koozin as ... Susan.

Do you love theater?¬† How about American history?¬† Or politics?¬† If you are a fan of any of those things – or if you are a fan of none of those things, but you’re a fan of laughing for two hours straight – you have to see “The Complete History of America (abridged)” at the Stages Repertory Theatre.

This two-hour play is performed by three actors: Susan O. Koozin, David Matranga and Kregg Dailey.¬† “History of America” is unlike other plays that I have seen, in that the actors play over-the-top versions of themselves, calling one another by their “real” names but truly performing as actors at the same time.¬† During the course of the show, the three of them skewer “600 years of history in 6000 seconds”.¬† No one is safe from the humorous treatment of American history: black or white, Asian or Native American, cheerleaders and potheads, men and women, soldiers and protestors, the French, the Germans, the British and the Italians – no one escapes the sharp wit of the play’s three writers, Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor.

The stage is set – literally – from the beginning.¬† As you enter the theater,¬†you see that it¬†is decorated like a fifth-grade history classroom; you know, the American flag posters, presidential portraits hanging on the walls, a bulletin board with sign-up sheets and fliers, a globe, and a huge chalkboard displaying several bars of the national anthem.¬† When the actors emerge there is an immediate sense of energy as they introduce themselves and set the tone for the evening, singing a mixed-up mash-up of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in three-part harmony.

stages theatre, play, comedy

Kregg Daily and David Matranga do Lewis & Clark, vaudeville-style.

As Koozin, Matranga and Dailey spoof their way from Columbus to the present day, the audience is invited to participate during several silly, interactive moments. ¬†After a skit¬†about the 19th Amendment, in which suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton was featured, the cast invited the audience to ask them any question we liked about American history.¬† As a native of Seneca Falls, NY – home of the women’s rights movement in America, and hometown to ECS (I went to Elizabeth Cady Stanton Elementary School) – I thought myself very clever when I raised my hand and asked, “Do you know¬†where Elizabeth Cady Stanton is from?”¬† The cast exchanged glances, and David Matranga offered up his best answer: “Do I know where Elizabeth Cady Stanton is from?” (emphatic head nod) ” YES!”¬† I laughed along with the rest of the audience, and my husband got a big kick out of my deflated ego!

The show is fast-paced, with numerous props, skits, and “costume” changes.¬† To keep up that kind of energy for almost two hours (there is a 15 minute intermission) must take an enormous amount of stamina; it’s an impressive play for that reason alone.

At a time when the political process seems angry and divisive, I thought it was great to have the opportunity to sit back and laugh at ourselves and the complex, sometimes contradictory history we share as Americans.¬† Depending on your political bent, you might not necessarily find some of the jokes funny, but since “The Complete History of America (abridged)” takes shots at everyone on the ideological, racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation spectrums, it’s easy to appreciate the show as a whole.¬† Because like it or¬† not – we’re pretty funny people!

What: The Complete History of America (abridged)

Where: Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway (map);

Tickets & Times: Tickets are available online and are $26 & $36 and the show runs through June 27.  Student, educator, senior and group discounts are available.  Wednesday and Thursday showtime is 7:30 PM; Friday and Saturday showtime is 8 PM; Sunday show is at 3 PM.  There is also a special Dinner & A Show package available with Stages and Mockingbird Bistro: $65 includes a 3-course dinner at Mockingbird and a show ticket (tax, tip and drinks not included); call 713.527.0123 for more details.

Parking: Limited parking available in the lot across the street from the theater, $5 per vehicle.  Additional parking available in surrounding lots.

Note: Tickets were generously provided courtesy of Eva Laporte, Stages Repertory Theatre.

Photos courtesy of Lise Bohn, Director of Resource Development, Stages Repertory Theatre.

Related places:
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    Stages Repertory Theatre
    3201 Allen Parkway,Suite #101, Houston, TX
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Tags: comedy, politics, theater

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