All in the Timingby David Ives. Directed by Jenn Thompson. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.
"I felt like I was repeating myself."
What a joy it is to laugh! In the David Ives' collection of six one-act plays, "All in the Timing" now on stage at the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont, you laugh and you laugh, and you laugh some more until the show is suddenly over and you can only laugh in retrospect in the car on the way home. If you stop to think about it, you really can't recall having laughted that much before, although at some point in your life you must have done so.
Under the deft direction of Jenn Thompson three actors play a wide variety of roles in plays that deal with language. Language, words are the subject of these plays, the ways in which we use words to be creative, to make deals, to get through relationships, to survive the rumor of your death in fact. In "Sure Thing" two people are given constant retries to get the right words out of their mouths and forge a relationship. In "Words, Words, Words," three creative folks, Milton, Swift and Kafka, explore their own styles and efforts to create pictures with words. In "The Universal Language" a shy, unprepared women attempts to learn a new way of speaking in order to find a new way to love her life.
In "Mere Mortals" three men in New Jersey explore their secret lives, their pasts and their futures from atop a girder fifty stories in the air. "The Philadelphia" provides insights into association and imagery. Finally, in "Variations On the Death of Trotsky" three people deal with the rumors of death, its rationale and its aftermath. Individually these plays take between eight minutes and twenty minutes to perform and the breaks between them take no longer than one minute. With a cast of three there is a backstage crew of five and, rightfully, the crew has been accorded their own group bow at the end of the show. They deserve it. Actually, they all deserve it.
Kelly McAndrew is wonderful as Dawn, who can only find ecstasy through learning a new way of speaking. She plays Charlie whose secret rationale for living is a remarkable and inspiring tale of sudden ressurection. She plays this so well, she could be telling the awful truth. As Mrs. Trotsky, toting her encyclopedia, she is dangerous and desirable, though not always in that order.
Adam Harrington makes Swift into a highly talented individual whose work ethic produces a highly charged, must longed-for result. His Al, a success story in a chair, plummets from the summit to the abyss in less than ten minutes and does it with panache. As Ramon, a Mexican politico with a passion for patricide that is quenched through the love of a married woman, he is one shot shy of personal hilarity.
Mark Alhadeff is a brilliant Bill whose attempts to get each uttered phrase just right nearly results in the loss of the woman he is wooing. His Trotsky is a portrait of a man who seems to have been assaulted, but may just be living the lie in real life that his philosophy has proved to be in actual time. As Milton he shows us just how cynical and vindictive a brilliant mind can become when pushed too far.
On a wonderful, open vista set by Kevin Judge, and in costumes that designer David Toser should be so proud to have designed Jenn Thompson guides her actors through the hoops that Ives has placed in their paths in each and every play. What each actor has brought to each role is indecipherable in the seamless cloth that this director has created with their help. The resultant show is funnier than almost anything else I've ever seen in film, television and theater. If I lived in Dorset I would simply buy a seat for every performance and hope that the run is long enough to give me enough pleasure to satisfy me for a lifetime.
Mark Alhadeff and Kelly McAndrew; photo: Taylor Crichton
Adam Harrington and Mark Alhadeff; photo: Taylor Crichton
Alhadeff, Harrington, McAndrew; photo: Taylor Crichton
All In the Timingplays at the Dorset Theatre Festival, located at 104 Cheney Road, Dorset, Vermont through August 9. For information and tickets call the box office at 802-867-2223 or go on line to dorsettheatrefestival.org.