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All in the Timing

All in the TIming
Illinois Central College Theatre Department
April 10- 12 and 14-19
By Marty Lynch

A man gets stuck in Philadelphia, if only metaphysically. A couple workshops their own meet-cute until they get it right. Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread. A couple transitions from what they say to what they mean and back again. Three chimps ponder the meaning of it all. Leon Trotsky dies repeatedly. That is what you get if you take 75 minutes out of your evening to visit ICC’s production of All In The Timing by David Ives. The show bills itself as “six one-act comedies focusing on a variety of topics and combining wit, intellect, satire, and just plain fun.” For my part, I saw nothing about it that was ‘just plain.’ This show is fun.

Each play consists of a tight cast, but ultimately there are fourteen actors bringing these plays to life. The Philadelphia features three great actors, particularly Nathan Apodaca and Victor Griffith as they reconcile their fates to reside in a pre-destined location. Sure Thing, widely regarded as the favorite as audiences members were leaving, features Ryan Groves and Trisha Bagby trying to get it right in the face of near-constant failure. Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread is an ensemble piece at its core, but I always enjoy the line interpretations that the Baker (Brenton Pfaff) is forced to invent.

I will let you in on a little secret. All In The Timing is actually much more than six plays, but nobody ever produces them all. Usually the best are chosen. Sometimes the best that an audience will tolerate are chosen. English Made Simple does not always make it into All In The Timing and it never makes it to a high school production. I enjoyed it for being a more adult-themed variation on a Sure Thing, but I loved it because Roxanne Timan and Asantá Cunningham took a ten-minute play and made a genuine connection in it.

There is another ensemble piece in Words, Words, Words, but I could easily single out Nathan Apodaca again, or Rebekah Waters, or Logan Henderson for the great work they do. Variations on the Death of Trotsky is exactly that, but it may help you to know that Leon Trotsky was instrumental to the creation of the Soviet Union before he was exiled and…well that is all you actually need to know. Hannah Gidcumb gets to work much more in her second play, riffing off Roxanne Timan’s energy and Chris McHenry’s steady Bolshevism.

One of the best things you get with a set of short plays is multiple directors. The first pair is directed by Rob Fulton and each play highlights a knack for witty banter that resides in the script but needs a talented director in order to bring it to life. Julie Peters directs the third and fourth pieces, and they may represent the most challenging movement piece and stylistic piece, respectively. If you have made it this far, you can tell English Made Simple is a personal favorite. Doug Rosson directs the final two pieces, and they are the ones I would refer to as the college plays. I know Hamlet well enough to get the references and I happen to know the history of Leon Trotsky, so his plays were treats to me. More importantly, Mr. Rosson assembled two plays that do not require you to know anything about either topic to enjoy the plays. All three directors managed the balancing act of staying true to their own style with each play and keeping all six plays cohesive as a single production.

The intimate space of the studio theatre tends to lend itself to words such as ‘minimal’ or ‘spare’ when it comes to describing designs. The design fits those words, but it was so much more. Somebody at ICC has a gift for steelwork that shines through in their designs. Set designer Rob Fulton shapes the space with two steel pieces suggestive of clocks flanking a small dais painted with watch gears to support the theme in every scene. Props are stripped down to the essentials to highlight the action of each scene, and lighting by Jacob Sleva serves to push the action forward. Diane Faulkner’s costumes are simultaneously essential exposition and an aesthetic treat.

All In The Timing runs through Sunday beginning at 7:30 pm except for a 2:30 pm matinee on Sunday at the Performing Arts Center Studio Theatre at Illinois Central College. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens and are available by calling 309- 694-5136 or online at  Audiences should be advised this is rated R for adult themes and language.

Loose Ends

• I have seen photos, but this was my first show in the studio space. I think it’s a cool space.

• Phillip Glass was on NPR last week, how great is the timing on that?

• If you can listen to, hear, or watch Einstein on the Beach then PGBALOB is hilarious.

• Reviews don’t often mention stage managers, but MJ Dougherty and Ty Evans deserve a shout out for the work they clearly did on this show.

• Those synopses up top? Fairly accurate, but I am not certain I did justice to Sure Thing.

• I have seen a number of these actors before, and it’s wonderful to see how they have grown.

• Marcelo C. Calvez, Breeann Dawson, and Hannah Bruce are the other members of the ensemble for Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread. All four of them did a fun riff on Glass’ music.

• I did not miss The Universal Language. I slightly missed Mere Mortals.

• I did this show in high school and again in college.

• Can you guess how old I am now?

• I now realize that I have been a part of two shows that reference Peoria by name when I was in high school.

• The second show was Little Shop of Horrors.

• I find that particularly odd because I went to high school in Maryland.

• That, and it was in Peoria that I finally saw Hairspray! Would that count as peripeteia?

Posted April 16, 2015

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