Review - All In The Timing

By: Feb. 17, 2013
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Near the end of "Sure Thing," one of the sextet of David Ives one-act comedies that make up All In The Timing, a pair of strangers meeting in a café bond over their mutual love for the early films of Woody Allen. Perhaps the current offering from Primary Stages will inspire couples to meet at the 59E59 Theaters' bar and bond over the early works of Mr. Ives, before he became known for less-quirky full-length plays and concert adaptations of old musicals.

"Sure Thing" is perhaps the best known of these hip, off-beat quickies that premiered back in the late 80s and early 90s as part of Manhattan Punch Line's Annual One-Act Festival before being packaged together for a hit Off-Broadway run in '93. The high-concept comedy simply covers a short conversation between a man and a woman on a Friday night from the time he asks if the seat next to her is taken to the moment they decide to spend the rest of the evening together. The running gag is that a bell rings every time one of them says something that could end the conversation right there and their words are quickly replaced with something more desirable. (When the woman asks if he's of any "weird political affiliation," the man responds "Nope. Straight-down-the-ticket Republican. (Bell) Straight-down-the-ticket Democrat. (Bell) Can I tell you something about politics? (Bell) I like to think of myself as a citizen of the universe. (Bell) I'm unaffiliated.")

While you may want to discuss how the playlet is about human communication or the fragility of blossoming relationships, the payoff is really - yes - All in The Timing. It's the rhythms and pacing and word sounds that tickle the ear; perfect material for the off-kilter creativity of director John Rando, performed with New York over-analytical zest by Carson Elrod's and Liv Rooth.

The rest of the evening riffs on even more antic notions. "Words, Words, Words" has Elrod and Rooth joined by Matthew Saldivar as three chimps randomly banging at typewriters at desks labeled "Milton," "Swift" and "Kafka," knowing they're expected to eventually come up with Hamlet, while not knowing exactly what Hamlet is.

Jenn Harris, who is funny enough with bland material, gets to sink her talented teeth into some really meaty comedy; first as a shy woman with a speech impediment in "The Universal Language" who grows more confident as con man Elrod teaches her a made-up tongue she can speak clearly (The humor comes from the audience's ability to understand what they're saying through malaprops and nonsense syllables.) and then as a surly, sexy waitress in "The Philadelphia," a sketch where people are afflicted with conditions that have them taking on the clichéd qualities of major American cities.

"Philip Glass Buys A Loaf Of Bread" begins with the simple action described in the title and repetitively builds it into a verbal and physical opus. "Variations On The Death Of Trotsky" begins with an absurd site gag but, with Saldivar's wistful performance, turns into a rather sweet rumination on mortality.

Smart and witty throughout, this top-notch revival provides a brisk night of civilized laughs.

Photos by James Leynse: Top: Liv Rooth and Carson Elrod; Bottom: Jenn Harris and Carson Elrod.

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"Legends are all to do with the past and nothing to do with the present."
-- Lauren Bacall

The grosses are out for the week ending 2/17/2013 and we've got them all right here in's grosses section.

Up for the week was: MAMMA MIA! (32.3%), CHICAGO (31.0%), CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (22.8%), MARY POPPINS (18.2%), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (18.0%), NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (17.5%), PICNIC (14.6%), SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK (14.0%), ANNIE (13.8%), THE OTHER PLACE (13.5%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (11.6%), CINDERELLA (10.8%), NEWSIES (10.2%), THE LION KING (10.1%), ROCK OF AGES (8.9%), WICKED (7.2%), MANILOW ON BROADWAY (5.3%), THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (5.0%), ONCE (3.3%), JERSEY BOYS(1.5%),

Down for the week was: