“Hollywood’s taking over the world,” declares one of the cast members during the introductions, and this slightly bemused, somewhat nauseated proclamation sets a nice tone for the freewheeling barrage that is Very Little Theater’s current production of Completely Hollywood (Abridged) by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, with additional material by Dominic Conti.
No less than 186 of the “greatest movies of all time” are referenced during this production, which is ably helmed by first-time director Adam Leonard. North by Northwest and Sunset Blvd. share the stage with Terminator and Titanic, creating a dizzying mulch of treasures and trash that zips by in the form of trailers, smash-ups and outright satires. Everything is handled by a trio of extremely talented and nimble-tongued actors — Patrick Curzon, Russell Dyball and Tim O’Donnell — all of whom reveal an attractive blend of geeky enthusiasm and postmodern pluck.
Unlike Martin and Tichenor’s popular abridgement of Shakespeare’s plays, which drags Elizabethan theater, kicking and screaming, into the realm of pop culture, Completely Hollywood instead brings pop culture to the stage, where it doesn’t stand a chance. Cinematic tropes are torpedoed as the cast ticks off the 12 components of successful movies — “action sells” for instance — and it is here the production really finds traction. Politics regularly intrude, giving the loose-limbed antics an edge; robotic Al Gore and Ah-nold the Governator take a severe beating. As they should, because, per Movie Rule No. 11.5, “there’s no accounting for taste.” If there were, John Gielgud would have been Prime Minister, and Ronald Reagan would have bowed out after Bedtime for Bonzo.
Completely Hollywood (Abridged) plays through April 29 at Very Little Theater; TheVLT.com