When I saw "Chicago" on stage, I came out thinking it was the best play I'd ever seen, and nothing could match it. The trouble is, every time I come out of the theater, unless it's a dud I think what I've just seen is the best ever. This happened again Friday night when Mom and I saw the Santa Rosa JC Theatre Art Department's production of "All in the Timing," by David Ives.
I'd love to say I knew what to expect when I walked into the theater, because the play has been around for ten years and has won a lot of awards. But I'd never seen it or even heard much about it. It's a series of comic sketches on topics ranging from language and relationships to the vagaries of luck and fate.
Mostly it's about communication. It's about words and meaning. It's very witty and very, very funny. The production we saw had six segments, beginning with "Foreplay, or: The Art of the Fugue." This one is about a guy who has his pickup routine down so pat that he can't cope when one of the girls he takes to the miniature golf course on a first date throws his own words back at him. The gimmick here is that three actors play Chuck, with three different women, in a sort of interwoven fugue of lines and interactions.
Other segments were "The Philadelphia," about an alternate reality where you never get what you ask for, so you have to adjust the way you ask; "Sure Thing," about a couple meeting by chance who get to start over every time their conversation takes a wrong turn; "Words, Words, Words," about three monkeys with typewriters, trying to reproduce "Hamlet," and discussing the process among themselves; "The Universal Language," a hilarious bit about a guy who runs a class in Unawunda, a made-up language that sounds like nonsense at first but makes more and more sense the more you hear it; and "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," which is about exactly what the title indicates.
The only reason I wanted to go into such detail is to encourage anyone in the area to see this production. The theater was a little over half full when we saw it on opening night, but the young actors were so polished already that it's a shame more people weren't there to see them. The rapid wordplay and precise timing it requires to pull this off probably mean that every production of "All in the Timing" isn't quite as well done as this one.