If one ignores the grating scene-change muzak, this was a rather good production – four short comic plays from David Ives’ All In The Timing, plus another from Mere Mortals. The show is quick and well directed, with minimal props and staging used to good effect. It’s also a very good choice for this company; despite his widespread critical acclaim in the US, David Ives has never reached the same levels of success in the UK. Shows such as this are arguably why the American High School Theatre Festival exists, offering the chance to see a young American company performing important American writing on this side of the Atlantic. The acting is consistently decent; there are no real weak links in the four-handed cast, although Dan Igl’s relaxed and naturalistic delivery led him to swallow the occasional line. However, more could have been done to draw out the humour from these pieces. Though the company’s admirably deadpan delivery was refreshing (I have seen All In The Timing painfully overacted elsewhere), the pacing of the scenes often meant that good jokes skirted by unacknowledged. The script has a number of very funny moments, but there were times when last night’s performance failed to capture them.
The plays themselves are, surprisingly, not quite as funny as their reputation suggests. The ideas are great: dating for mayflies; the day-to-day lives of immortal monkeys typing Hamlet; the last day of Trotsky’s life (ice-axe still lodged in his skull). However, the execution stands for improvement. Ives’ self-conscious cleverness won’t be to everyone’s taste, and All In The Timing’s one-act plays often feel like five minute sketches dragged out beyond their natural length. This is most noticeable in the opening play, Time Flies’, which begins strongly, but slowly fizzles out rather than coming to any dramatically satisfactory conclusion. Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood for seeing David Ives performed well, Jefferson High School’s All In The Timing fits the bill perfectly.