One Act Wonders,
This review is from: All in the Timing: Fourteen Plays (Paperback)
If you don't know the playwright David Ives then you should get to know him. His introductory chapter is a delightfully funny collection of answers to common questions a playwright might get - without the questions, because the questions themselves are superfluous.
The book consists of 13 one-act and 1 full length plays.
Sure Thing: A man tries to introduce himself to woman reading a book. And says the wrong thing. Ding. Reset. They try again and again until they get it right.
Words, Words, Words: 3 monkeys, Kafka, Milton and Swift, trapped in a room with a set of typewriters by an unseen psychologist until they produce Shakespeare's Hamlet. They think of rebellion. Great dialog, extremely funny.
The Universal Language: With hat tips to When The Earth Stood Still, Yiddish and Monty Python. Student Dawn meets teacher Don and together they create an Esperanto like language that is both funny and swimming in culture. Getting the language is half the fun as most of it is just punned English.
Variations on the Death of Trotsky: The basis of the cover image, Similar to SURE THING in that it reuses resets to play out the same scene in different ways, this comic sketch on Trotsky's murder plays on the historic fact that Trotsky was killed by an axe on Aug. 20th 1940, but died a full day later. So how does a noted Bolshevik survive a whole day with an axe in his head?
The Philadelphia: Every had one of those days when you seem to be somewhere else. Al and Mark do. Once you learn the rules it's easier to manage, but can you get out?
Long Ago and Far Away: Memories in a New York apartment. Laura slips back in time and then is lost. Less of a comedy and more of an existential wandering.
Foreplay: Where miniature golf stands in for seduction. Ives employs parallelism showing 3 variations on a date with the same man and similar women but run simultaneously.
Seven Menus: Another excursion into resets, composed of 7 scenes at the same restaurant, but different times, but this time changing only one or two characters at a time; technically interesting.
Mere Mortals: Written in memory of his father, 3 sensitive construction workers on a beam come up with a fanciful theories as to who they really are - and one of them claim's he's the Lindbergh baby.
English Made Simple: A mockumentary in the style of those 1950s on how to behave films, in this at a party. Three roles - a narrator and the subjects: Jack and Jill.
A Singular Kind of Guy: A short monologue where a young man imagines himself to be a typewriter. Nothing special but one can make something out of this.
Speed The Play: Terrific parody produced in honour of David Mamet. If you're familiar with any of American Buffalo, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Speed the Plow or Glengarry Glen Ross you'll appreciate how Ives nails it. And if you aren't, it's funny anyway.
Ancient History: A full length two hander quasi romance sputtering to extinction. IMV its also also a weak entry with themes of love/lust and 30 somethings bickering over identity getting a bit old. The play is rooted in a clever couple who spend most of their time rooting each other, which makes the set simple - a bedroom. Jack, an ex-lapsed Catholic Peter Pan and Ruth, a Jewish Wendy are in lust with each other, but Jack peters out as Ruth wants to take him out of Neverland. Interesting use of repeated dialog but that's technique.
Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread: This one I didn't really get, but then I've never seen a Philip Glass opera performed or listened to one of his symphonies. Perhaps I should. Ostensibly Phil Glass goes into a bakery, buys some bread, gets his change and leaves. There are 4 parts and they all speak slowly and at the same time.
The one acts are Immensely suitable for as acting exercises, but perhaps some enterprising impresario could transplant the cinematic idea of a comic animation before the show and offer pieces like these as a preshow treat before a longer performance. Enjoyable just for a read as well.