Sunday, April 30, 2006

All in the Timing (Actors' Summit)

Delightful ‘All in the Timing’ mentally challenges at Actors’ Summit

The world according to David Ives, the author of ‘ALL IN THE TIMING,’ now on stage at Actors’ Summit, is a very odd piece. Ives loves to play with the English language and disorient an audience.

On the surface, the segments don’t seem to hook together. In actuality they do. They all deal with language. They probe the way language is used, how it is created, and whether people are really communicating when they use language. This is both the strength and weakness of the script. It will delight many but frustrate those who like things clearly spelled out.

‘ALL IN THE TIMING’ was originally a book of six one-act plays by David Ives written from 1987 to 1993. The current script contains fourteen one acts. Actors’ Summit is using the original script.

The short plays include ‘SURE THING’ in which a man and a woman meet for the first time in a cafe, where they have an awkward meeting continually reset each time they say the wrong thing, until, finally, they connect.

‘WORDS, WORDS, WORDS’ displays three chimpanzees in their attempt to write Hamlet. ‘THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE’ finds a man and a woman falling in love while communicating in the invented language intended to be used as part of a con game.

‘PHILIP GLASS BUYS A LOAF OF BREAD’ is a musical parody of contemporary composer Philip Glass, in which he has an existential crisis in a bakery. ‘THE PHILADELPHIA’ concerns a man in a strange state where he must ask for the opposite of what he wants in a restaurant. In ‘VARIATIONS ON THE DEATH OF TROTSKY’ Leon Trotsky dies, and dies and dies.

The Actors’ Summit cast, under the adept direction of A. Neil Thackaberry, does a consistently excellent job of developing the many roles they portray. Both Alicia Kahn and Noah Varness milk the humor out of ‘SURE THING.’ Kahn, Peter Voinovich and Sally Groth totally “monkey-around” in ‘WORDS, WORDS, WORDS.’ Sally Groth and Peter Voinovich do an amazing job of making the audience understand a language that is not understandable. Their ability to remember the complex lines is amazing.

The Philip Glass piece is creatively staged as the actors move in parallel time to the composer’s discordant music. Kahn, Varness and Voinovich are excellent as people caught in black holes where they can’t get what they want. Only ‘VARIATIONS OF THE DEATH OF TROTSKY’ falls short. The piece becomes tedious and doesn’t have the creative power to wrap up the evening.

Ives, in explaining why he writes for the theatre stated, “Our lives happen in voices: in inner monologue and outer dialogue, in scenes of interwoven tension and resolution with comic byplay. As drama. As comedy. As a live, local, handmade event. As theater.”

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Ives’ ‘ALL IN THE TIMING’ displays his philosophy and receives a fine production at Actors’ Summit.