Wild America

Our history gets potted.

Here's the long and short of it. Well, just the short.

The RSC is coming! Before you get the wrong idea, that's not the Royal Shakespeare Company, it's the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Those are the guys responsible for cramming the complete plays and several sonnets of Shakespeare into a single 90-minute show. So much for the "creeping hours of time."

Now, having proved that brevity is the soul of wit, the RSC crosses the pond to survey The Complete History of America--Abridged. The three-man show is billed as a "high-energy slapstick tour offering insights from Columbus to Clinton."

So you get 500 years of American life crammed into 90 minutes. It's sort of like watching a real long Nike commercial. Back in 1961, Stan Freberg tried the same thing, but it took him an entire hour just to get up to George Washington. Of course, Freberg wasted time with a lot of songs. The RSC gets the founding of Jamestown out of the way with a few lines of rap.

As you might guess, the group will waste no time getting out of Tucson. The show--the only U.S. presentation of it this year, presented by Tucson's Invisible Theatre--runs Friday and Saturday only.

Although the popularity of its Shakespeare folly led the RSC to sprout several little touring clones, Complete History of America brings us the show's founding fathers themselves, writers Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, joined by longtime RSC hanger-on Matthew Croke.

The production promises to be revelatory. After all, how many of us took a high-school American history course that got past World War I? If you did, please write in and tell us how things turned out. Otherwise, we'll just have to take the RSC's word for it. And they're obviously men of few words.