Often, first-time Festival goers arriving in Edinburgh can be paralysed by choice as a result of the sheer volume of shows on offer. However, once you have collected your ticket and taken your seat you would expect the decision making process to be complete. This is not the case with
Chubby Hmm Production’s skilled interpretation of All in the Timing won’t disappoint.
The Universal Language tells the story of a young woman with a speech impediment, Dawn di Vito, who sees a newspaper ad promoting the universal language of Unamunda. On arrival at the office she meets her teacher, Don Finninneganegan, and he sets off teaching her the basics of the Anglo-Slavic-Romantic hybrid tongue. The piece doesn’t offer any real belly-laughs – the point is to keep the audience hanging on Don and Dawn’s words, trying to keep on top of what is being said in this Esperanto-type language. The ending is a bit on the schmaltzy side but is well-acted and is never in danger of outstaying its welcome.
Following the results of a cheer-based vote, Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread is next up. Granted, enjoyment of this sketch will be enhanced by some knowledge of the Glass oeuvre – a listen to any of the Knee Play episodes of the Einstein on the Beach opera should elucidate. Again, this is not one for belly-laughs but is extremely well-performed, the piece involving all four actors as they work their way through a series of chants, rhythmic phrasings and call-and-answer sequences that take place as the New York composer runs into an old flame at a bakery. It’s very much what some people refer to as a ‘Fringe-type of show’ – some will love it while some will find that it goes over their head (I found myself very securely in the former – for me it’s worth the admission fee by itself).
The third piece, Sure Thing, centres on a chance encounter of two strangers in a coffee shop. What makes their meeting different is that they are forced to replay the previous moment each time an offstage bell is heard. What has the potential to be almost Beckettian in style (cf. Ohio Impromptu) again errs on the side of the romantic as the two characters, Betty and Bill, find themselves drawn inexorably closer. The pair show some really nice comic touches and never overplay the way in which the ever-insistent bell forces them from one emotional register to the next. This allows the undeniable quality of Ives’ writing to shine through.
On the day we missed out on The Philadelphia, Words, Words, Words and Variations on the Death of Trotsky, but on exiting each audience-member was given a half-price voucher should they want to return to witness the sketches they missed – a very nice touch. Pass it on to a friend or make the return journey – either way, Chubby Hmm Production’s skilled interpretation of All in the Timing won’t disappoint.