|Kelly Hutchinson and Liv Rooth. Photo: James Leynse|
By David Ives
Directed by John Rando
What's It All About?
The world premiere collection of a collection of short plays by David Ives (All in the Timing, Venus in Fur). An ensemble cast of Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod, Kelly Hutchinson, Liv Rooth and Jeff Biehl (I saw Rick Holmes before Biehl stepped in) bring Ives' zany situations to life under the direction of John Rando.
The six plays combine gags and typical Ives suspension of reality to explore relationships, alter realities and what might have been. They aren't related, however, so an overall theme fails to emerge.
Some explore slices of life, while others take a wild leap, like "Soap Opera," in which a "Mapole" washing machine repairman (Carson) falls in love with his Neptune IT 40 model (played by Rooth), who jealousy keeps him from pursuing a relationship with a real woman (Hutchinson) who is interested in him."Enigma Variations" has a couple of folks suffering from severe cases of deja vu (with expert timing and nifty costuming and wig design by Anita Yavich and Tom Watson creating sets of dopplegangers) and "The Goodness of Your Heart" tests the boundaries of friendships and expectations. "Life Signs" is funny, as a mother reaches out from beyond the grave with zaniness that reminded me of Rando's work on Urinetown.
What Are The Highlights?
My favorite sketch was "It's All Good," following two old "church ladies" who have been called in to prepare a funeral luncheon. As Edna and Flo putter about in the basement making kiebasa, Jell-o and other church-food staples, they chat and reflect, in the way old friends do, and vow that whoever goes first will take care of the other's funeral lunch. The world becomes bigger than the confines of the basement with the help of nifty scenic and lighting design by Beowulf Boritt and Jason Lyons.
The ensemble is top-notch. Rooth is aways a treat.
What Are the Lowlights?
Well, you need to remember to through reality the window, or some of the bits might seem a bit too far fetched. And even after you unlatch realistic expectations, not all of the humor lands solidly.
Sound design and original music by John Gromada;
Lives of the Saints is Primary Stage's seventh production of Ives' work. It runs through March 27 at The Duke, 229 West 42nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. There is an added 2 pm matinee on Wed. March 25. There is no performances Tuesday, March 17. Tickets are $70: PrimaryStages.org; Dukeon42.org; 646-223-3010; box office. Groups: (10+) $45 each for all performances: (212) 840-9705, ext. 204.
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