I confess to being largely unfamiliar with the work of playwright David Ives. Lauded as “the maestro of the short form” by the New York Times, Ives has been writing well-received short and full-length plays since the 1970s.
Most have escaped me, although I did catch International City Theatre’s staging of his Mark Twain-inspired “Is He Dead?” a few seasons back.
The Studio at Long Beach Playhouse is currently presenting a perfect intro to Ives’s work for those similarly unfamiliar. “All in the Timing” is a collection of six one-act comedies written by the author. By turns absurdist, philosophical, romantic and just plain silly, they are consistently funny. They also boast Ives’s celebrated mastery of language and word play.
A very talented, game cast of nine brings several offbeat situations to life. In one play, three monkeys are tasked with writing Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” while in another a woman attends an introductory class to learn a newly-proposed universal language. A man and woman play something of a variation on speed dating in one, and three high-rise construction workers reveal unexpected personal histories in another.
My favorite of these mini plays, and the one staged best by director ‘Phie Mura, is “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.” Written by Ives in the modern composer’s minimalist, repetitive style, it cleverly illustrates how things might indeed go down if Glass (embodied well by Brian Pirnat in his Playhouse debut) were to walk into one’s local bakery.
Michael Kaye plays key multiple roles, including David Ives…
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