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All in the Timing: Fourteen Plays Paperback – November 8, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Theater that aerobicizes the brain and tickles the heart...Ives is a mordant comic who has put the play back in playwright." -- Time

From the Inside Flap

The world according to David Ives is a very add place, and his plays constitute a virtual stress test of the English language -- and of the audience's capacity for disorientation and delight. Ives's characters plunge into black holes called "Philadelphias," where the simplest desires are hilariously thwarted. Chimps named Milton, Swift, and Kafka are locked in a room and made to re-create Hamlet. And a con man peddles courses in a dubious language in which "hello" translates as "velcro" and "fraud" comes out as "freud."
At once enchanting and perplexing, incisively intelligent and side-splittingly funny, this original paperback edition of Ives's plays includes "Sure Thing," "Words, Words, Words," "The Universal Language," "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," "The Philadelphia," "Long Ago and Far Away," "Foreplay, or The Art of the Fugue," "Seven Menus," "Mere Mortals," "English Made Simple," "A Singular Kinda Guy," "Speed-the-Play," "Ancient History," and "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; A Vintage Original 1st ed edition (November 8, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067975928X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679759287
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So what if Christopher Durang, Dorothy Parker and David Sedaris combined DNA? You just might get David Ives.
Witty and cerebral, Ives comments on relationships, language and mortality in some of the cleverest one-acts to ever find their way into print. All the works have a Tom Stoppardian-esque command of the English language. Especially in "Foreplay, Or The Art of the Fugue" and "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread" is his impeccable command of ordering words into almost symphonic patterns best displayed.(Hey, it also helps to know a little about Philip Glass, who was a postmodern musical innovator and it is his musical phrasing Ives mimics in "...Buys A Loaf...")
Some of these plays deal with modern relationships. "Sure Thing" continually backtracks the forming of its 2 characters' relationship with each other by allowing them unlimited "re-dos" when they make a social or relational faux pas, until the "perfect" pattern for falling in love is found.
"Ancient History" is perhaps my favorite out of all the plays. It has two very real, very funny, very sympathetic romantic characters that will constantly remind you of yourself. Jack and Ruth argue, banter and raise issues we're all familiar with in a way that makes you laugh until you realize how sad it really is.
Ives has no trouble taking fellow playwrights down a peg or two as well. "Speed-The-Play" requires an elementary knowledge of David Mamet to really appreciate how hilarious (and accurate) it is.
All of the other pieces are wonderful and hilarious. "English Made Simple" and "Variations on the Death of Trotsky" were probably meant to be read anyway.
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Format: Paperback
In these days of cookie-cutter plays, where an intellectual evening is watching David Copperfield making his career disappear, it is refreshing to read anything that challenges one to think. All In The Timing succeeds, with Ives mastery of the English language and timing being the key to the cleverness of the play. These series of plays are not slap-stick, nor are they Checkov, but an intellectual medium for one who has apparently a bit ahead of his time. While some will find the read of some of the plays difficult (The Universal Language and Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread). These plays, in particular, are for enjoying on stage, rather than read. But for the most part, this collection is an enjoyable evening of intellectual theater.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of plays has opened my mind to different ways of writing and reading. As a high-schooler, I was looking for a one-act play to direct, and I was certainly given a wonderful choice by Ives. He is especially innovative, considering that he manages to connect music to his writing : "Foreplay, or the Art of the Fugue" was written in the style of a fugue, and "Variations on the Death of Trotsky" is written similarly to variations on a theme of music. "Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread" has incredible rhythmic qualities, and overall, I think that "All in the Timing" is a first-rate set of plays, worth anybody's time.
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My current favorite playwright primarily because of his humor. It's outlandish, but not so you don't understand the underlying meaning to the plays as a whole. "Sure Thing" is one that I expect I will perform in soon. I held off directing it because I wanted to be in it so badly. I did, however, direct "Seven Menus" and it was a lot of fun. His plays are great for college productions, as well as, community plays. Anyone would have fun reading them! Not much of monologues...lots of fast paced, back-n-forth dialogue.
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I bought All in the Timing after being a part of a production of "Words, words, words", "Variations on the Death of Trotsky", "The Philadelphia" and "Sure Thing". After enjoying immensly the 12 times I saw these performed, I found out that there were more! I immediately bought the complete collection and have been laughing my head off ever since. I read them over and over and loan the book to all my friends who appreciate comedy. If you need a good laugh, read "All in the Timing."
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Format: Paperback
David Ives demonstrates an almost superhuman command of his material, to such an extent that he's able to distance himself from convention and even make fun of himself and the 'cult of intelligence'. Ives's knowledge of art OUTSIDE of theater comes through at every turn as well as a knack for comic profundity ne plus ultra. Disparate as the individual plays may seem, the whole thing holds togetehr and in toto becomes an encyclical on interpersonal relationships and the meaning in life (or lack thereof). Ives avoids any heavy-handed intervention, allowing cliche and commedy to speak almost misologically for themselves. This is a must for anyone who's into drama, humor, or the arts generally.
--Justin Laird Weaver <uweavj02@umail.ucsb.edu>
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Format: Paperback
This collection from Ives is one of the most complete and entertaining works around; humorous one acts keep the audience (reader)laughing consistantly at the situations. However, as a magnet theater student, I've seen the plays done nearly three times each (Sure Thing at least five times). The collection is must-read, but if it remains the source for assignment material in American high schools, soon the novelty will wear down and the plays will be in the same boat as Durang's Laughing Wild.
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