Sunday, January 15, 2017

Enter The Whacky World Of David Ives in "All In The Timing"--Now Showing At The James F. Dean Theatre

All in the Timing, written by David Ives, premiered at Primary Stages in 1993, moved to the larger John Houseman Theatre, and ran for 606 performances. In a review The New York Times said "there is indeed a real heart...There is sustenance as well as pure entertainment." It won the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting, was included in Best Plays of 1993-1994, and in 1995-1996 was the most performed play in the country after Shakespeare plays. It consists of six one-act plays called "enchanting and perplexing, incisively intelligent and side-splitting funny." Without further ado, this is what you can expect as you wander into the peculiar and disoriented world according to David Ives. Now showing at the James F. Dean Theatre January 13th to 22nd with energy and enthusiasm.

Directed by Larry Spinner, Sure Thing begins with the question, "Is that seat taken?" This piece chronicles the seemingly endless possible directions that exist when two people try to successfully link up over a cup of coffee for the first time. You will learn what ringing a bell can do for those awkward first moments of meeting. Starts off a little slow, but gets better--kinda like a first date.(Berry - Jeni Haman, Bill - Eli Hummer)

Directed by Elissa Horrell, Variations on the Death of Trotsky shows the 1940's Russian revolutionary with a mountain climber's axe buried into his skull by his communist gardener, Ramon, the day before, yet he remembers nothing. His wife comes in the room with an encyclopedia from the 1990s to inform him that the book says he is going to die today prompting him to make his final philosophical statements on human life several times over. Interestingly, the real Leon Trotsky was attacked by Ramón Mercader with an ice axe as the weapon. Trotsky did die a day later. This is an obvious parody of the actual events taken to the extreme. Daniel gets the David Ives Award for literally falling on his face. (Mrs. Trotsky - Phyllis Jackson, Trotsky - Daniel Rich, Ramon - Eli Hummer)

It's funny watching movies where monkeys dress up and imitate humans, but what would it look like if the tables are reversed? Directed by Kristen Kos, JC Conway(Swift), Phyllis Jackson(Milton), and Shua Jackson(Kafka) go bananas as they give a side-splitting glimpse into the little bit of monkey business called Words, Words, Words. It experiments with the philosophical precept that three monkeys typing into infinity will sooner or later produce Hamlet. What would the resulting conversation be in the chimpish collaboration? I give it a rating of five bananas.

Directed by Daniel Rich, The Philadelphia takes place in a coffee shop where the various inhabitants are stuck in different states of mind paralleled with cities in the United States. Mark finds himself in a Twilight Zone-like state in which he cannot get anything he asks for. Carefree Al, who is the Los Angeles, advises befuddled Mark to ask for the opposite of what he wants, the Philadelphia. The waitress, meanwhile, is in the Cleveland. This one has a twist at the end. (Al - Ernie Eliason, Mark - Cody Smith, Waitress - Michelle Smith)

Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread is a humorous musical exaggeration with the celebrated composer having a moment of existential crisis in a bakery. Philip Glass, an American composer, is considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. Glass has described himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures," of which Ives has some fun with. In this metronomic snippet, he encounters an old girlfriend accompanied by a friend. The result reminds me of a scene from a Danny Kaye movie called "The Court Jester," which was also referenced in Words, Words, Words. (Jeni Haman, Eli Hummer, Phyllis Jackson, Shua Jackson)

Directed by Shua Jackson, The Universal Language is about Don, the creator and teacher of Unamunda--a made-up language purported to be "The Universal Language" based on words from the English language, as well as German and the Romance languages. His first pupil, Dawn, is a shy, stuttering girl with little money. She hopes that this new language will help her overcome her speech problems. Their lesson ends up in a dazzling display of frenzied verbal redundancies and a confession. Cody Smith(Don) and Michelle Smith(Dawn) do a phenomenal job delivering the tongue-tying dialogue of the scripts discombobulated syllables. I also give this one a rating of Five Bananas.

A pleasantly lighted stage, with wall to wall clocks dominated by a painted caricature of a man dressed in a black suit wearing a black top hat, served the six-act play well. Robert Venne, also dressed in black suit with black top hat and reminding me of comic Lou Costello, entertained between scene changes and also credited with the artistic creation of the painted likeness.

Knowing something about David Ives before you come to the play is helpful in understanding the mind set behind the six one-act plays or you just might go bananas. If you don't, you just may find yourself in Philadelphia instead of Los Angeles. Either way, it is All in the Timing. "Is that seat taken?" "Ding."

Purchase tickets now.

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