Like some sort of magical flying rabbit, Primary Stages' current revival of All In The Timing is light, fluffy, and will have you home by 10 o'clock. When most Broadway shows threaten to end just before 11 pm, that's a value not to be understated. But that's not all! All In The Timing is simply delightful. Don't believe me? Ask the Times.
Last week, I spoke to director John Rando about what makes this evening of one acts click. Today, the interview ran at Bullett. Right now, you can read it.
As you’ve directed it, All In The Timing rockets past quick enough that the actors barely have a chance to breathe. What makes that speed possible?
David’s writing is so distilled, and so like music. My job is teaching his tempo. It’s a very detailed, specific process, where an actor has to find a through line, find a character, find an emotional reality—and at the same time recognize that the language is heightened and sharp and quick. Being able to do that takes a lot of musicianship from the actors.
This seems like a collection of plays that, directed badly, could fall flat on its face. How did you avoid that?
With David’s short plays, the first twelve lines of the play are the heart of the show. Getting the beginning of the play right—visually and emotionally—makes it all make sense. We’ve got three monkeys sitting around and typing and randomly trying to produce Hamlet. It’s ridiculous. But making that very clear at the very beginning allows the audience to catch up quickly. Because they’re short plays, you don’t have time for exposition. Your exposition’s over before you know it.
I like that. If, after the first twelve lines, you haven't set everything up, you're doing it wrong. David Ives knows. He's a funny guy.
On a related note, am I the only person who's sick of the phrase "an evening of one acts"? I used it above, and I'm not proud of myself. In the intro to the Rando interview, I called it "a clutch of one act comedies." I'm going to keep trying to come up with clever new words for that kind of thing. The day's theme is vocabulariety. You heard it here first. And probably last.