note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Carl A. Rossi
Like the two mayfly lovers in David Ives' "Time Flies", this little Tuft University entertainment will be gone before you read this (two shows only), which is too bad, for it was free and fun and showcased nine young actors quite nicely.
I may have seen some of Mr. Ives' one-acts before; if I have, then my opinion of him has not changed: he is a very talented writer of stand-up comedy; that is, he quickly sets up a situation and then milks it for all it is worth, leading up to a punch line and blackout – or sometimes just a blackout (a sketch may not end, but simply stop). On the surface, each one of these sketches sounds dazzling and different:
"Time Flies" – two newly-born mayflies meet, fall in love, and learn they have only a few hours left before they must die at the end of the day. What to do?
"Soap Opera" – a Maypole (sic) repairman falls in love with a Maypole washing machine: Perfection itself.
"Foreplay" – miniature golf becomes a metaphor for Sex, Life, Sex, Death and Sex.
"English Made Simple" – the subtext beneath the text of what singles say to each other at parties.
One – maybe two – of these sketches, buttressed by works of other writers, would have pleaded a very good case that Mr. Ives is a comic writer to be reckoned with, but to view all four of the above (sans Intermission) reveals a singer who sings the same song over and over; after awhile you start to wonder, "Can he sing anything else?" Unfortunately, no; at least, not from what I saw last night: male/female couplings, alternately "hot" or hysterical; much talk (and gestures) about Love and Sex but never a glimpse of the human heart. That said, Mr. Ives had me grinning throughout much of the evening, and the college crowd I sat with greatly enjoyed themselves – in fact, a coffee house or rathskeller may prove a more congenial environment for Mr. Ives than a conventional stage, with coffee, smoke and beer supplying the atmosphere missing in his sketches.
The cast on the whole was a pleasant one, and most of them knew how to zing and punch in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE fashion. Best of all was Gio Gaynor, the wonderful Mercutio in Tuft's ROMEO AND JULIET and I was delighted to see him equally at home in Mr. Ives' nutty little world. Though only 20 years old, Mr. Gaynor is already a talent to watch – he has an amazing vocal range (good dialects), moves well and is endlessly inventive in his bits and pieces – all of which made his Mercutio so fascinating. (He was also in the better of Mr. Ives' sketches, playing supporting parts in "Time Flies" and "Soap Opera".) When Mr. Gaynor graduates, I hope that regional directors will rescue him from a steady diet of Mr. Ives and his brethren who are slipping us television disguised as theatre – Mr. Gaynor is too good to waste.