ALL IN THE TIMING (IRC): Six fast and funny existentialist shorts

IRC’s ALL IN THE TIMING features Andrew Carroll, Jennifer MacMillan, and David Stanger as chimps in “Words, Words, Words” (Photo credit: Johanna Austin @ AustinArt.org)

Kristen Norine, Andrew Carroll, and Jennifer MacMillan in “The Death of Trotsky” in IRC’s ALL IN THE TIMING (Photo credit: Johanna Austin @ AustinArt.org)

Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium returns to the cabaret stage of L’Etage for an eight-performance run of David Ives’ ALL IN THE TIMING, a 75-minute collection of one-act comedies that explores alternate realities by asking the ubiquitous question, “What if?” Performed by a stellar ensemble of six IRC regulars (Tina Brock, Andrew Carroll, Jennifer MacMillan, Kristen Norine, Bob Schmidt, and David Stanger), the set of six shorts provides perfect paradoxes for the company’s signature style of meaningful absurdity, filled with intelligent wit, intellectual references, and intriguing allusions.

What if “The Philadelphia” were a metaphysical black hole in physical New York, where everything is reversed, everyone is contrary, and “No matter what you ask for, you can’t get it”? What if three chimps, named after renowned authors, were given typewriters in a behavioral-science observation lab, while monkeying around and munching on bananas and peanuts? Would their random typing of “Words, Words, Words” eventually result in Hamlet? What if we all shared “The Universal Language” of Unamunda? Would lonely people communicate better, lose their self-conscious impediments, and find happiness? What if post-modern composer “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread”? Would his experience in the bakery be as ‘unchanging’ as his reiterative minimalist music? What if we could hit the reset button, turn back time, and replay the unfortunate episodes of our lives? Would an awkward encounter between two lovelorn strangers become a “Sure Thing,” and would there be “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” so that the revolutionary leader could evade his fate and rewrite history? Or would destiny always intervene?

Those are the existentialist dilemmas addressed in the IRC’s ridiculously smart and entertaining production. Directed with fast-paced energy by Brock, Stanger, and Norine, the actors are flawless in their rapid-fire delivery, as they tackle the nonsense of life with serious hilarity and meet the demands of the playwright’s complex wordplay with seemingly effortless fluidity. Stanger is especially impressive in his fluent jabbering of Unamunda, as he teaches the fraudulent new language to the enthusiastic quick-study Norine, in a sequence that pays homage to the French Princess Katherine’s English lesson from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Brock and Schmidt are perfectly paired as the romantic misfits who repeatedly take back self-defeating comments on their first unexpected encounter, and Carroll and MacMillan excel at the expressive physical comedy inherent in their roles as the doomed Trotsky and his wife. Costumier Erica Hoelscher, prop designer Mark Williams, light and sound operator Gil Johnson, and musical director Norine provide an engagingly clever design for the delightfully zany show. It all adds up to one terrific time with the IRC’s ALL IN THE TIMING!

[L’Etage, 624 S. 6th St., 2nd floor] October 28-November 7, 2015idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.org.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.