All in the Timing
Written by David Ives
Directed by Stephen Pelinski
Where: Studio Theater at the Roselle Center for the Arts
(University of Delaware, Newark, DE)
When: Wednesday, April 22, 7:30pm
Image from the REP
Some may consider it an insult to call David Ives' play All in the Timing a light diversion, but one definition of "diversion" is simply an "amusement," and this Resident Ensemble Players production fits that bill. While it's certainly lighthearted, All in the Timing is also smart, finding its humor in verbal wordplay and literary and historical references. While I'm sure I didn't get all the jokes, Ives' play never made me feel dumb for not comprehending a line -- a talent that not all playwrights possess. The rapid fire nature of the humor makes any jokes that fall flat (or whizz over your head) be immediately replaced by new ones and (REP member) Stephen Pelinski's direction aids his cast of three actors to much success in the intimate Studio Theater at the Roselle Center for the Arts.
In a series of five short vignettes (a total running time of under 75 minutes), our trio of actors -- REP member Kathleen Pirkl Tague and visiting artists Drew Brehl and Torrey Hanson -- take on relationships, what happens when you ask monkeys to try and reproduce Shakespeare, forming a universal language, the awfulness of a Philly cheesesteak (which I can't help but disagree with), and whether Leo Tolstoy is still alive and kicking. While some of those may not sound like loads of laughs, the humor comes alive thanks to the nice work of the cast.
Surrounded on three sides by audience members, the rotating stage (designed by Stefanie Hansen) provides a unique staging experience for all involved as well as proving an adequate dressing room for the cast who hardly leave the stage throughout the production. That said, simplicity rules here. This isn't a play you attend for fancy costumes or exquisite set pieces. Instead, you're here for the verbal repartee -- and the cast excels in that arena.
While my favorite vignette may have been the first -- "Sure Thing" in which Tague and Brehl play two strangers who meet for the first time in a cafe wherein their meeting resets each time someone says something stupid -- all five segments have their merits. Particular kudos to returning guest artists Brehl and Hanson who for the first time really get the spotlight placed on them and manage at time to upstage the brilliant Tague -- a feat which is not easy to do considering her talent. Wordplay is quick and rapid here and all three are more than capable of playing off one another to great effect.
All in the Timing is a nice addition to the six play 2014-15 REP season. While it lacks gravitas, I actually think it's the best production they've put on this year thus far.