An old adage states that you can do a lot with a little, and I don’t think that you could find a truer example of this than this past weekend’s production of “All In The Timing.” With just 40 minutes, three actors, and one projector, Sarah Corey ’15 managed to create a short yet memorable romp through existentialism, social experimentation, and the space-time continuum in a compilation of three short David Ives plays.
The first short, entitled “Sure Thing,” is a theatrical version of the movie “Source Code,” if “Source Code” were a romantic comedy. A woman (Beanie Feldstein ’15) and a man (Elijah Stevens ’15) meet in a coffee shop and quickly hit it off…sort of. As they talk, they are interrupted by a bell every time one of them says the wrong thing, and they redo the entire conversation. As they steadily progress through their introduction, they’re able to make a real connection. The whole sketch seems to play out more like a really well-done improv game, with the characters quickly listing off one alternative response after another.
In the next short, “The Philadelphia,” Michael Linden ’15 and Stevens play two friends stuck in very different predicaments. Stevens has found that nothing in his life is going right, and he’s receiving the opposite of every desired outcome. Meanwhile, Linden is oddly completely content even as he discusses all the ways his life is going to hell. As it turns out, this is because the two are trapped in two separate pockets of reality, with Stevens stuck in a Philadelphia, while Linden has found himself in a Los Angeles. Together, the two try to master their respective worlds, as Linden also attempts to avoid being sucked into the hapless Philadelphia. This one certainly had a strange, and admittedly uneven, type of humor. At times, it seemed to be tapping into an absurdist concept of being stuck in a direction plagued by opposites. At other times, however, it seemed to be making a far more simplistic, and ultimately not as funny, comparison of New York, L.A., and Philly. Granted, that might have been because, since I’m not from any of those places, I just wasn’t “in” on the joke.
The final, and probably the most esoteric, short was “English Made Simple.” Essentially, Linden gives us an explanation of basic social interactions between Feldstein and Stevens. He stages one simple introduction between two strangers, dissects all the hidden meanings of what was said, and then places this same dialogue into a handful of different moods and contexts. This one mixes quirky humor and surprisingly contemplative subject matter, pairing the absurdist comedy with an exploration of the genuine importance of human relationships and all the little encounters that shape our lives.
In all of these shorts, the actors managed to do a lot with very little. There was no real set, other than an occasional table and chairs and a projected background, but there was a constant energy that transcended the production’s overall simplicity. However, one slight problem with the overall show was that, as someone unfamiliar with the works of David Ives, I didn’t understand if there was some greater idea or message that united all of the shorts. This is probably one of the side effects of the show’s incredibly short length. But the fact that I wanted to see a few more shorts is a testament to the quality of the show; overall, “All In The Timing” was a successful collection of strange yet funny gags elevated by energetic acting.