All In The Timing is the 1993 collection of six shorts plays by David Ives, which is being done by Primary Stages, where it originated and helped seal Ives’ career as a playwright to watch and listen to.
It’s a witty assortment of playlets about the challenges of communication amidst the constant hazards of misinterpretation, whether willful or accidental.
For example: A couple’s first conversation dramatically changes every time an imaginary bell sounds. (The possibilities are limitless–and hilarious.)
Three unruly chimps try to write a new Hamlet so they can be released from their literary lab experiment.
A slick operator teaches a universal language that’s “eegee. Eggs over eegee.”
Then comes a loopy spoof of avant-garde performance (which might have been more topical in ’93, but is still funny), a lament for the psychological shortcomings of second-rate cities, and a farce about Trotsky’s death via very sharp object in his head.
The playlets seem influenced at times by SNL and Monty Python (John Cleese is even referenced), but there’s generally more on their mind, as they play out with intricacy and imagination.
The chimp sketch comes off too one-note and the Trotsky one ends the evening without a bang, but throughout the night there’s absurdist vigor in Ives’ exploration of language about language, and John Rando directs smoothly, even down to the choreographed scene transitions.
The cast of five is versatile, with Jenn Harris a dry riot and Carson Elrod dominating with neurotic wizardry in five roles.
He’ll be a star. It’s all in the timing.