Volume II, Issue II Summer 2003

Smart skits make their point

Review by Charlene Baldridge

Time Flies
Written by David Ives
Directed by Matt August

Cassius Carter Centre Stage
The Old Globe
Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.
Through September 7


Exquisite use of language and ruefulness over the transitory nature of existence undergird David Ives' "Time Flies," playing in a slam-dunk production at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

"Time Flies" comprises six Ives sketches that range from broad and physical to less direct, gentle comedy. In various combinations, five gifted comedians explore the slick surfaces and subtexts of each sketch, brilliantly directed by Jack O'Brien protégé Matt August in his Globe directorial debut.

"All in the Timing," another evening of Ives sketches that enjoyed a run of more than 600 performances off-Broadway, earned the playwright an Outer Critics' Circle Award. Much produced regionally during 1995-96, it was seen at the Globe in 1998.

Time Flies In the Globe's "Time Flies" the title sketch is performed first, and is the best of the lot. It concerns May and Horace, two "lowly mayflies" (Mark Setlock and Mia Barron) who meet – "I was born just this morning." "So was I."– and flirt before discovering through a TV nature program hosted by David Attenborough (David Adkins) that they have only 24 hours to live.

They decide to "carpe diem," and their frenzied mating is both hilarious and touching; something that applies in varying degrees to the evening itself.

"Babel's in Arms" introduces the rest of the company. Gorph (Setlock) and Cannaphlit (Adkins) have lugged a granite block across Mesopotamia for two years, finally placing it just so on what is to become the site of the Tower of Babel, being developed by a businesswoman (Nancy Bell). The sign in the sand looks curiously like that of Century 21. A tall, thin, sultanishly clad eunuch (Jeffrey Brick) accompanies her. Of different tribes, Gorph and Cannaphlit argue over whose god is God, drawing lines in the sand. Faced with the enormity of building a tower that must reach clear up to the heavens, they decide they must reinvent God as one who is in everything.

Also employing all five actors, "The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage, concerns the murder of a randy guest in the rector's drawing room. It is a send-up of British drawing-room comedy done with stiff upper lips and outrageously ridiculous accents.

Subtle and affecting, "Green Hill" concerns a man who leaves his true love to search 16,900 sites worldwide for the special, serene hill he's seen only in dreams. Less successful, "Bolero" concerns a midnight insomniac and her husband. The touching "Lives of the Saints" involves two elderly widows, replete with broad Midwestern Polish accents, who prepare a friend's funeral lunch in the basement of their church.

Apparently, Ives' "Time Flies" sketches may be chosen from many and arranged according to directorial whim. Each is unique; each has specific challenges; each sheds a different light on humankind's pathetic plight and search for meaning.

August's particular whim, for good or ill, was to rearrange the sketches even after the program was printed. This viewer is not convinced he did the right thing, though the acting is certainly all one could ask. The production is supported brilliantly by David Ledsinger's inventive, adaptive scenic design; Holly Poe Durbin's splendid costumes; Chris Rynne's lighting; and Paul Peterson's sound design.

Charlene Baldridge is a writer and artist living in San Diego.

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