Six gems of witty wordplay inhabit Silver Spring in “All in the Timing”

Rebecca Shoer, David Dieudonne, and Matthew Bannister in one segment of "All in the Timing."  COURTESY PHOTO BY HARVEY LEVINE Rebecca Shoer, David Dieudonne, and Matthew Bannister in one segment of "All in the Timing." COURTESY PHOTO BY HARVEY LEVINE  What’s better than one funny, witty, clever play?

Six at a time.  

David Ives’s award-winning “All in the Timing,” now playing at Silver Spring Stage, brings together six short plays that focus on language, relationships, music, and more.

The number used to go as high as 14, and the composition of the plays under the “All in the Timing” rubric varied with a director’s wishes.

“Now Ives has basically an official script, which we’re using, consisting of six specific plays,” he said.

The first part of the program begins with what is probably the best-known play in Ives’s work, “Words, Words, Words.” The play recalls, and riffs, the philosophical adage that if three monkeys were to type indefinitely, they would sooner or later come up with “Hamlet.”

In “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” the famous Russian revolutionary may still be interested in doctrine, but the end is near after he wakes up one day to find a mountain climber’s axe in his skull.

“The Universal Language” focuses on a young woman with a stutter and a man who created and teaches Unamunda, a wild comic language. The two engage in hysterical verbal pyrotechnics until they fall in love.

After intermission, the second half starts with “The Philadelphia,” which offers a different take on the expression: “Be careful what you wish for.” The protagonist experiences a crisis when he falls into a “Twilight Zone”-like state -- which means he can’t get anything he asks for.

“Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread” is a musical vignette, in the style of the controversial minimalist composer, who has an existential crisis of a different sort in a bakery.

In “Sure Thing,” the final play in the production, two people meet in a cafe and blunder their way through a conversational minefield as an offstage bell interrupts their false starts, gaffes, and faux pas on the way to true love.

Relationships in “All in the Timing” can “pivot on a dime, and who’s got the upper hand evolves through the pieces,” said Pam Burks, stage manager/producer.

While going over the script, Gorman decided to enlist the help of a choreographer, Aly Cardinaly, to add movement to Ives’s words.

“It’s not a full-blown theater dance, but movement elements,” he said.

The director decided on no blackouts between the short plays, using only signs (with titles) and movement to indicate the transition.

“I wanted to give this a carnival feel,” he said.

Burks had a head start in working on “All in the Timing.” She had stage managed/produced the annual One-Act Festival at Silver Spring Stage.

Moreover, she had directed a production of another play of Ives, “Venus in Furs,” which also concerns a shifting of power balance between two people, though the subject matter is racier.

Moving from one play to another challenges the lighting and set designers. “Costume changes have to happen quickly, and the theater has to distill [down] to the basic design elements to suggest characters,” Burks said.

Ives’s six-play work could be comic relief after the production of “Wit,” a heavy drama, but it also represents the ‘80s in Silver Spring’s celebration of its 50th season. The theater has chosen a play from each decade of its existence.

“‘The Curious Case of Watson Intelligence’” is “somewhere in between ‘Wit’ and ‘All in the Timing,’ with the pendulum swinging,” said Burks.

The ensemble cast in the current production consists of Matthew Bannister, David Dieudonne, Brianna Goode, Omar Latiri, Michael Reilly, Rebecca Shoer, and Erin Schwartz.

“All in the Timing” is now playing through March 17 at Silver Spring Stage, Woodmoor Shopping Center, 10145 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring.
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