There is a high degree of talent involved any time that a three-man cast can maintain a captive audience for the entirety of an hour and a half. Starring Villanova students Tom Boland, Patrick McNulty and Eliot Williams, and directed by Noah Thacker and Janey Van de Weghe, The Complete History of America (Abridged) presents a cynical reenactment of some of America’s most significant historical events as well as comically exaggerated impersonations of many renowned historical figures. Boland, McNulty, and Williams sport black pants, white button-downs, red and blue ties and tie clips for the entirety of the performance, but their attire does not hinder them from thoroughly mocking the United States.
The play traces the history of the U.S. from the time of its discovery by Christopher Columbus to the contemporary presidency of Barack Obama and sarcastically outlines some of the more outrageous events in between. Highlights of the show include the cast spraying the audience with water-guns during a reenactment of the First World War, a scene from the Second World War during which the all-male cast wears women’s bras as substitutes for gun-holsters, and a break-dance by President Obama (Patrick McNulty) to the tune of Lionel Richie’s Brick House.In addition to this play being McNulty’s first with the Villanova Student Theatre, it is also his first ever experience as an actor. Most people probably would have difficulty believing that to be the case upon viewing this performance, as McNulty acts with the confidence of a veteran entertainer. McNulty’s vocal impersonation of President Barack Obama, for example, is comparable to something that one might see on Saturday Night Live or Key & Peele.
Other favorite moments of the play include Eliot Williams acting as a game show host and rewarding correct answers from the audience with Pokémon cards and Tom Boland along with the rest of the cast using a giant sketchpad to rearrange the letters in George Washington’s name to make the phrase, “‘gaggin’ on wet horse.” It is clear that the cast worked very hard together to make this play as enjoyable as it is and their comfort with one another is visible on stage. All of the jokes are delivered well, and no member of the cast lacks in comedic timing.
Directors Janey Van de Weghe and Noah Thacker do an admirable job with their creative interpretation of the script. The cast delivers the majority of their lines well showing their skills as actors, but it is important to remember that the deliverance of the lines is a product of the directors’ vision for each particular scene. In this regard, the directors succeed in presenting the acts in the best possible way. The Complete History of America (Abridged) was definitely worth seeing to laugh, learn and relish in some of the not-so-illustrious parts of American history.
By John C. Grabenstatter ’17