by: Sandi Durell

David Ives’ six one-act comedies isn’t only ha, ha, ha. There’s a message behind each one and if you can stop laughing for a minute, you can also appreciate the cleverness of his brain. This grouping of shorts may be 20 years old, but everything is relevant. Currently playing at 59e59 Theaters, this Primary Stages production, deftly directed by John Rando, is hilarious genius on the parts of all involved.

“Sure Thing” takes place in a café with Bill (Carson Elrod – Peter and the Starcatcher) trying to pick up Betty (Liv Rooth – Venus in Fur), timed out by a bell each time they speak, and readjusting their conversations until they finally find the right words to romance – that perfect timing.

“Words, Words, Words” finds Elrod, once again, playing Swift a talking monkey, with two other talking monkeys, Liv Rooth as Kafka, and Matthew Saldivar (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Milton – all adorably costumed, as part of a scientific experiment, to see if they can come up with typing Hamlet. Their hilarious antics and references to Shakespearean classics are a riot.

When Dawn (Jenn Harris of recent Silence! the Musical fame) walks into a language school as a lonely stutterer, she is greeted by Elrod, a con man, with “Velcro” (Welcome), and is soon singing to “The Universal Language“ called Unamunda as love blooms. “Oh, my galoshes!” – think Esperanto and pig Latin but much more.

Act 2 opens with “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread” and features Eric Clem as the Uberbaker, and the entire cast, in perfect comic timing ala Marx Brothers, about the minimalist composer Glass, in an existential dream-like theatricality. “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” is a statement of the last day of Trotsky’s life (Matthew Saldivar), as he walks around with an axe in his head.

Where are you today? Are you in “The Philadelphia” perhaps? Everyone’s got to be somewhere! But if you happen to be stuck in a Philadelphia, that means that whatever you want, you’d better make sure you ask for the opposite if you want to get what you actually want. Well, it could be worse – – you could be in a Cleveland!

This five star cast of youthful energetic performers couldn’t have been better chosen as each inhabits the various characters with vim and vigor; nor could Beowulf Boritt’s imaginative set or Anita Yavich’s colorful costumes or Jason Lyons’ lighting.

“All in the Timing” www.ticketcentral.com 212 279-4200

**Photo: James Leynse