The timing is perfect in "All in the Timing," which Arizona Onstage Productions opened Friday.
So is the acting. And the directing ain't bad, either.
The David Ives play is a series of six short sketches. Very funny sketches. Ives loves words; these bits celebrate them in glorious ways.
It opens with "Sure Thing," with Betty (Rhonda Hallquist) and Bill (Jonathan Northover) meeting in a cafe. They begin a conversation, a bell rings, and they begin again. This goes on until they get it right. Oh, who among us wouldn't love do-overs like that?
"Words, Words, Words" has three monkeys in a room beating on typewriters. The theory is they will eventually pen "Hamlet." The monkey Swift (Northover) hasn't a clue what "Hamlet" is but is mightily concerned that they'll be asked to write James Joyce's "Ulysses." He is also the rebel, suggesting ways to poison their keeper. Milton (Carley Preston) starts by pounding out the opening lines to "Paradise Lost," but ends her writing with gobbledy-gook. And Kafka (Hallquist) just wants a reward for doing whatever she does.
The skits go on - "Philip Glass Buys A Loaf of Bread" is a complete hoot as a couple of people (Samantha Cormier, Bebe Fischer) spy on the composer (Rob Roberts) purchasing bread from a baker (Tanner Page). With the opening line, "Isn't that Philip Glass?" a musical take-off erupts with a variety of plays on the same words ("Philip Glass is a loaf of bread," "Philip need a loaf of bread," "Philip can think bread," and maddening repetition - "Isn't that isn't that isn't that isn't that," "Think it is think it is think it is think it is."
Totally nonsensical. Totally Glassian. And totally funny.
All six of these vignettes are joyfully funny, and the cast embraces the strangeness of them. And there were some sublime moments - Hallquist's unibrow, which underscored her monkey Kafka's cluelessness; Preston's immersion in her role as Milton; Sean Dylan's difficult role as a teacher of a faux language in "The Universal Language;" Jared Stokes' Trotsky - with an axe sticking out of his head - in "Variations on the Death of Trotsky;" Cormier in most anything she does.
There were three directors on this project, each taking on two pieces - Carrie Hill, Sheldon Metz and Eva Tessler. The potential for a disjointed evening is there, but the directors didn't seem intent on putting their marks on their segments. Instead, the end result shows their intent was to make Ives' skits vibrant, cohesive, and lots and lots of fun. That they did.
• What: Arizona Onstage Productions' "All in the Timing."
• Playwright: David Ives.
• Directors: Carrie Hill, Eva Tessler and Sheldon Metz.
• When: 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through May 19.
• Where: Cabaret Theatre at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Stone Ave.
• Cost: $27.50. Discounts available.
•Reservations: 1-800-838-3006 or Arizonaonstage.org or brownpapertickets.com
• Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.
•Et cetera: Contains mature language.
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at email@example.com or 573-4128.