Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lives of the Saints ***

When Primary Stages offered a near-perfect production of “All in the Timing,” David Ives’s collection of six hilarious short plays, two years ago, I awarded it five stars. Now they are back with an evening of six more Ives playlets. Those expecting a reprise of Ives’s delicious word-play based sketches will be disappointed. The current collection is more substantive, but less stylistically successful. Most of the six plays (a seventh listed in the program was dropped to shorten the evening) are loosely tied together by the theme of goodness. “The Goodness of Your Heart” examines what one can expect from a good friend. “Soap Opera,” a pun-filled extended sketch about a repairman (think Maytag) who falls in love with a washing machine, shows the downside of perfection. “Enigma Variations” did not seem to fit the evening’s theme. With doubled characters and reversing roles, it was more frenetic than coherent. My favorite was “Life Signs,” in which a newly deceased mother thought to have lived an upright life suddenly begins talking to her grieving son and vividly disabusing him of that notion. “It’s All Good” shows a successful New York writer the life he might have had if he had never left southside Chicago. The title play, which closes the evening, demonstrates the simple goodness of two older Polish Catholic women preparing a funeral breakfast. Although the evening does not reach the delirious heights of “All in the Timing,” there are still lots of laughs. Returning from the previous production are director John Rando, set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Anita Yavich and actors Carson Elrod (a comic genius) and Liv Rooth. They are joined by Arnie Burton, Rick Holmes and Kelly Hutchinson, who are just as adept at animating Ives’s characters. Although a bit disappointed that lightning did not strike twice, I had a good time. Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes, including intermission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In a perverse way, I'm sort of glad I missed All in the Timing. You wrote you preferred it to Lives of the Saints, which I saw this afternoon and loved to pieces. And the cast too. I hope All in the Timing comes back so I can have an even better time with more Ives plays.