Wednesday, April 17, 2019

“All In The Timing” Gets A Proper Dust-off At North Coast Rep.


David Ives’ “All In The Timing” is a novelty piece. Quirky would be another way to describe it. Written somewhere between the late 80’s and early 90’s, there were about fourteen short (very short) one act plays that Ives submitted. Most theatres present six and those  usually take up about 70-80 minutes making it as long as a one act play might take.

Artistic director of NCR David Ellenstein has selected a six-character ensemble for the six one acts, some using all of the players, some using two and you get the idea. Those in this present incarnation include: Taylor Renee Henderson, Uma Incrocci, David McBean, Noelle Marion, Christian Pedersen and Omri Schein.

If you didn’t get the hint about the title when you entered the theatre and saw the mechanisms of a clocks - movements in the background and on the stage itself, of set designer Marty Burnett’s well imagined playing space, then some of the skits might not resonate either.

The sketches are fun but also play with our minds. In ‘Sure Thing’ a young girl Bette (Noelle Marion) is sitting at an outdoor restaurant drinking coffee and reading a paperback (Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury”).
Noelle Marion and Christian Pedersen
A man, Bill (Christian Pedersen) approaches, (tries to pick up on her) and asks if the empty seat next to her table is taken. What ensues are a series of possible answers, false starts, mistakes and miscalculations off set by the ding of a bell between each set of answers until they settle on one answer that seems comfortable to each. The skit is pinpoint fast moving and each new approach is halted by a bell, and another scenario begins with a different ending.

‘Foreplay, or the art of the Fugue’ is one Ellenstein substituted for Philadelphia. Although I have seen this play on several occasions, I will admit  “Foreplay, which I don’t recall, was not my favorite. I have seen the one with "Philadelphia and rather did enjoy that one, but you can't have everything.

As you might have guessed Foreplay' play on words is about golf. This time miniature golf on a course called Lilly-Put Lane (ouch) with the accent and lingo tilted in the direction of the far east.
Omri Schein and Taylor Renee Henderson 
Three couples Schein, McBean and Pedersen are playing golf with three different partners as the talk of golf gets juxtaposed with sex as the underlying dialogue with lots double entendre giving the audience lots o’ laughs. If you are a golfer, it will tickle your funny bone.

In one of the funniest, ‘Words, Words, Word’, three chimps (Schein, McBean and Incrocci) are locked in a room for observation to see they can write Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.  The theory is that if they bang on the keys of their typewriters (yes typewriters) long enough, sooner or later they will type out the play “Hamlet”.

All three actors, appropriately named Swift, Milton and Kafka are pretty adept at acting like chimps, ferreting out little gnats from their hair, biting off chunks of banana, and scratching under their armpits. Uma Incrocci, whose Chimp name is Kafka prints out lines of K’s.  The other two make literary jokes about their identities as well.

David McBean and Taylor Renee Henderson
“The Universal Language” finds Dawn (Taylor Renee Henderson ) and Don (McBeane) together in a room set up by Don as a classroom for those interested in learning a new language, Unamunda, that he created.

When Dawn starts the lesson she tells Don she stammers and she hopes this new language will help her overcome her impediment. Undaunted, he proceeds to teach her this gibberish language (sounding like a page out of Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner”) which turns out to be a tongue twister of dazzling proportions.

McBean is amazing at this ‘new language’ that sounds like a combination of Pig Latin, double talk, foreign phrases and over accented words to name a few. His scam convinces Dawn to spend all her money taking the course but, smitten with her, he convinces her not to waste her money.

“Phillip Glass buys a Loaf Of Bread” and "Variations on the Death of Trotsky" are the last two. Phillip Glass is a parody on Glass’ music, played dead- pan by Schein, with music set to his buying a loaf of bread at the bakery. He runs into an ex lover and the piece gets to be a more complicated and repetitive interpretation of the composers music. The whole ensemble is in this piece.

Uma Incrocci and Omti Schein
"Variations on the death of Trotsky" has Schein as Trotsky and Incrocci as his wife. Trotsky is walking around with an axe buried in his head but he doesn’t remember it happening. It seems that Trotsky lived a whole day after he was bludgeoned with an ice axe to the head by his gardener Ramon (McBean an hilarious turn as the Gardner Ramon).

Kafka was sure he would die by ice pick. His wife keeps reading from an encyclopedia article saying that he died in 1940 but the book she is reading from is dated 1990.

The play goes through several versions of his last days and what might have happened to him before and during his death. But the most bizarre thing about the piece is the fact that Trotsky doesn’t even feel the axe in his head. 

It’s crazy and outrageous fun. And if farce is your thing and time matters you are in the right place. It’s just what the doctor ordered.  All six actors worked their collective butts off making this show enjoyable, somewhat crazy and most of all just plain fun.

Matt Novotny’s lighting along with Aaron Rumley’s use of sound and projections are creative, and Elisa Benzoni’s costumes, and of course resident set designer Marty Burnett’s talents add to the overall quality of NCR’s productions.  

Uma Incrocci, Omri Schein and David McBean
The skits are clever, some more than others. The good news is that Ellenstein has gathered the right people, at the right time put them together in a timely manner and together makes this a timepiece for the generations to come.

Enjoy.

See you at the theatre.


Dates: Through May 5th
Organization: North Coast Repertory Theatre
Phone: 585-481-1055
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach, 92075 Suite D
Ticket Prices: Start at $49.00
Web: northcoastrep.org
Photo: Aaron Rumley

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