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Sunday, 18 March 2012 18:01

Perfect timing!

Written by Shahnaz Ahmed
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The Details

Six creative one-acts - all in one evening, all by David Ives, and it was All in the Timing!

When I think about "All in the Timing", I don't think it's fair to review it as one play, because it's actually six individual one-acts, with nothing that really connects them, except the same stage and backdrop. The one-acts individually were all excellent.

The first one-act, "Sure Thing", was confusing at the beginning. It took me a couple of minutes to understand what was going on, and I felt it took Sarah Keeven (as Betty) a little while to get warmed up. Paul Cooper (as Bill) was great from the start and after the first couple of minutes, everything and everyone fell in place. When I began to understand the concept of "Sure Thing", even Sarah Nash (as the Bell Ringer) was fun to watch. Leaving technical aspects aside, this one act reminded me of the movie "Groundhog Day". It was about a man meeting a woman and essentially replaying aspects of the meeting to get it right over and over again, until it was a Sure Thing.

The next one-act, "Words, Words, Words", was about the infinite monkey theorey, which states that monkeys typing at random for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce a sequence of words that can amount to Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Three chimps, Sherman Doyle (as Milton), Krystal Stevenson (as Kafka) and James Linsin (as Swift) are locked in a room with a typewriter discussing how to produce "Hamlet", when they weren't even sure what it was. The play was very creative; the acting was great. I loved how Krystal picks at James' as though searching for lice on his body. I enjoyed watching Krystal type with her hands twisted, with one finger pointing. I found it interesting. All actors turned in an excellent performance in this one act, and it was a pleasure to watch them as chimps.

"The Universal Language" was my favorite of the evening. This one act is based on the concept of Robert Stevenson (as Don) inventing a new language, Unamonda, and conning people into paying him to teach them the language. Estee Schwartz (as Dawn) does a splendid job in portraying a stuttering character, getting out of her shell, learning Unamonda and in turn changing her perspective on life. Several parts of this one act were difficult to understand but when I did understand the word choices, it was very funny and creative. The exceptional performances by Robert and Estee made this one act my favorite of the evening.

If you are into existentialism and artsy concepts or just a minimalist music fan, then the next one-act, "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread" is for you. It was based on several repeated word patterns like Glass's minimalistic music. The play was confusing and complicated, but it was fun to watch and like his music it all comes together in the end. Great performance by all involved. Krystal Stevenson, Sarah Keeven, Paul Cooper and Terrence Donnelly pulled out what felt like a very difficult repetitious routine that had the potential for instant disaster with one slip (that never happened). It was a treat to watch. This is not one to explain. Like abstract art or modern music, this has to be experienced and felt.

If you've ever had a bad day and things just didn't go your way, well you might have been sucked into the black hole called "The Philadelphia". What a great concept for a play! Very creatively scripted and with exceptional performances by both John Urbanek (as Al) and Sherman Doyle (as Mark) it was great to watch. The creativity of this play blew my mind. It was smart, witty and with quick back-and-forth dialog, I felt my art appreciation skills were lagging behind such greatness. Before I could appreciate one joke, there were three more to process and on and on. I am still processing the lines "you could be in a Philadelphia in Philadelphia!" It was a rolling on the floor, laughing out loud (ROFL) good time!

If I remember from my history lessons in high school (a long time ago) exiled Bolshevist Leon Trotsky was killed by an "ice pick". However, Wikipedia states a pick axe and another source in the Guardian states an ice axe. What was it that killed Trotsky? In "Variations on the Death of Trotsky" Mark Zoole (as Trotsky) is wearing a mountain climber's axe imbedded in his head. There were several excellent takes on what happened and why. This play was funny, but it did have a serious twist towards the end. I must make note that Mark has great comedic timing and it was a pleasure to watch him as Trotsky on the stage. Jan Niehoff also turned in a great performance. And Robert Stevenson (as Ramon) was just brilliant. I'm still laughing at the image of Ramon's costuming with a massive sombrero, that made his character more funny.

All in all, great direction by Angela Sebben Frick. These series of one-acts are not to be missed. I highly recommend them. I'm looking at my schedule to see if I can find a way to go again. Yes, I loved them all that much!

The set consisted of acting boxes moved into different positions for each play, but the most impressive part of the set was the mural used as the backdrop. Very creative words and pictures on it and it all ties into the plays. The credit goes once again to the director and several of the actors who spent time in painting. Costuming was by Angela and the cast and sound was by Angela (again!). Congratulations Angela on an excellent production!

I cannot say enough good things about "All in the Timing". If you love creativity and thinking out of the box type of concepts, this one will tease your senses and you'll come back refreshed with a new appreciation for art and theatre.

"All in the Timing" continues at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves through March 25th.

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