Saturday, May 26, 2007

PLAY: "The Chronological Secrets of Tim"

The Chronological Secrets of Tim is an energetic melodrama about relationships, but it's not wild enough to titillate, and it doesn't answer enough questions to entertain. The show is one lengthy tease, and the final product makes one a bit blue, so to speak. The writing is intentionally comic, mixed with heavy splashes of roundabout MTV-like chatter, but like Tim himself, the farce just needs to try harder to account for itself. How do you account for a show running long enough to merit an intermission when it's built around a man sitting on a ledge, threatening to jump? How does that premise last two hours? Granted, the rookie negotiator proves that we're not grounded in reality, and that's cemented by Tim's ex-girlfriend Alexandra showing up, and more so when Tim's latest ex-girlfriend Amanda arrives. Not that either of them pulls him down from the ledge, or that either of them really has a reason for being there. They're as much plot devices as they are chances for playwright Janet Zarecor to belittle the self-centered, cheating, egotistical Tim. (Why his parents think he's gay remains a mystery, just like the mysterious journal entry whose threatened revealing is the climax of Act I.)

Sarah Ali does a nice job of focusing our attention on the wings for the chronological flashbacks that occur whenever one of the girls reads from Tim's sexcapade of a journal, and she manages to evoke setting and character with a bare minimum of props. All the actors do a fine job of switching mood between past and present, but it's telling that the show only seems to be alive when it's in the short, segmented realm of the past. There, the narrative has clear actions (or at least a clear punchline); in the present, the single action is stretched beyond plausibility and far too much into monotony. When things are shaken up in the second act, they're not only inconsistent with the limited character and need of the first act, but they don't even pay off.

The Impetuous Theater Group produced The Chronological Secrets of Tim, and it's a good name for their company, as this effort comes across as eager and headlong. (Even the advertising seems rash: why the name Tim is spelled with the lightning-bolt of Harry Potter will forever remain a mystery.) The actors make the most of it, particularly Liz Bangs, who plays all the miscellaneous hook-ups of yore, but after an hour, it's no longer as much fun to watch themselves futilely throw themselves at the script. At that point, we're watching for someone to throw themselves out the window.

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