Mind−twisting wordplay on display in Theatre Time’s daring “All in the Timing”

By Arlene McKanic

“All in the Timing,” written by David Ives, is something completely different from Theatre Time Productions. The show is made up of six often Borgesian vignettes that play not just with time but with language itself. Even the crew gets into the act. In between acts they play with the props and dawdle — at one point a production assistant takes a nap on a sofa. It adds up to a work that’s as thought−provoking as it is funny.

In “Sure Thing,” Betty and Bill meet at a restaurant and live just about every scenario that could happen save one stabbing the other in the eyeball with a fork. He asks if the seat at her table is empty. She says (maybe not in this order, for order doesn’t matter) no … a bell rings … then she says yes … a bell rings… then she says she’s waiting for someone … a bell rings. He’s gone to Harvard, then he’s never been to college, she’s married, then she has a lover. You have to see it to believe it. And it resolves beautifully. And Lisa DiCarlo and Jef. Lawrence are hilarious.

In “Words, Words, Words” three chimpanzees named Milton, Kafka and Swift have been put before manual typewriters to test some scientist’s theory that if a roomful of chimps bang on typewriters long enough they’ll end up writing “Hamlet.” The three actors, Andrew Greiche, Jackie Wieder and Logan Vrankovic, are children, and they’re fantastic.

The third vignette, “The Universal Language,” is a tour de force both for the writer and the actors (Lisa DiCarlo again and Matt Coonrod), for there are few things in the theater tougher than acting in a made−up, nonsensical language, which the two of them must do.

Act II opens with “The Philadelphia,” which answers the question that lots of people may ask from time to time: “Why is absolutely nothing going right today?” The answer is that you’re caught in a Philadelphia, a time warp where nothing goes right and the way to get anything done is to aim for its opposite. A Philadelphia is also contagious, as the three actors, Keith Junas, Lenna Parisyan and Peter Walter Vrankovic, learn to their shock. They too are marvelous in their brief roles.

The next vignette, “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread,” is a sparkling bit of nonsense that does to words what Glass does to music. Judy Vincent, Suzanne Haehnel, Jim Thomas and Armand Catenaro are also good in roles nearly as difficult as those of DiCarlo and Coonrod in “The Universal Language.”

“Variations on the Death of Trotsky” is just that. Al Carbuto plays the role of the revolutionary with an axe sticking out of his head, courtesy of his Mexican gardener, and ponders possible aspects of his death while Mrs. Trotsky (Mickey Dandola) looks on in sympathy. Peter Walter Vrankovic returns as a hilarious, swishy and unrepentant Ramon, the assassin.

The vignettes are directed by various directors, including Kevin C. Vincent, Robert Combe, Tom Williams, and Jef. Lawrence, and all of them are unwavering with this tricky material. Bill Haas contributes an inventive lighting design.

“All in the Timing” is a great opening for Theatre Time Productions’ spring season.

If You Go:

All in the Timing — By David Ives. Presented by Theatre Time Productions.

When: Fridays March 13, 20 at 8 p.m., Saturdays March 14, 21 at 8:30 p.m., Sunday March 22 at 5 p.m., meet and greet pizza party Saturday March 21 at 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $15⁄$13; opening night special all seats $12; meet and greet all seats $16

Where: First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, 15−43 149th St., Whitestone

Contact: 718−391−8697

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