A Short Evening of David Ives’ Shorts

By David Ives
Directed by John Campbell Finnegan

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Wordplay and comedic turn of phrase run amuck in David Ives’s work. Perhaps you read his work in college where his short plays were always accessible in Acting 101. Indeed, my college featured him in a festival of short plays at one point. The work of David Ives is precise with stories that reach beyond a conceptual sketch while drawing commentary and satire on the modern world. Four selections from his collection “All in the Timing” gain the spotlight at The Bunbury Theater’s A Short Evening of David Ives’ Shorts in a concise yet entertaining evening.

Simple staging and sets keep distractions at bay from David Ives’ witty content. Repetition of phrases, opposite meanings, puns, and even deep literary references are explored and handled with a great amount of energy by the small cast within each piece. Whether you are a highly educated audience or love lowbrow humor, the four selections have something to enjoy. And what of those selections? Sure Thing, A Singular Kinda Gal, Words, Words, Words, and The Philadelphia move at such a lightweight yet quick jaunt that the evening is over before you know it. With a delayed start to the show, curtain speech, and two very short pieces in the first act, I question the choice of inserting an intermission between the four shorts. Despite the set changes and addition of props, a pause in the evening prolonged the upbeat pace required for David Ives’s works.

Opening the evening is Sure Thing. Relying on the rapid ring of a bell, Stacia Schaum and Bobby Smith have fun exchanging dialogue for a chance meeting that turns into a romance. Schaum and Smith play off each other well and make great comedic choices that vary ever so quickly. Bailey Preston is silly and sincere in her performance of A Singular Kinda Gal. Her connection with the audience is immediate and intimate as she compares herself to a specific type of typewriter. With her confident pronunciation of big words like “subcutaneous” and a straightforward comparison to the Allevey 2.50 with auto-correctability, Preston proves that being a typewriter “can be a lovely thing.” 

In Words, Words, Words, Carol Jacqueline, Elsa Hargis, and Todd Padgett monkey around as three chimps, a part of an experiment to write Hamlet. Jacqueline and Padgett make great use of the balls, hats, and space while waxing philosophical about the possibility of a chimp being able to randomly type the Bard’s greatest works. With chimps named after Kafka, Swift, and Milton, literary jokes come quickly and are met with the appropriate groans and giggles. The Philadelphia offers metaphysical silliness as two characters stumble into a place where you must ask for the opposite of what you want. Annie Brundage and Nicole Greenwood are funny in their frustrations and do well to handle the exposition of the piece. The humor of this work is lost in the many references to Philadelphia and other cities. While making fun of these different cities may feel like an inside joke from David Ives, it does not distract too much from the character’s exasperation. 

You get a little bit of everything with a David Ives play. And Bunbury Theater offers a nice, eclectic sampling of some of the greatest short works. From monkeying around to metaphysical nonsense, A Short Evening of David Ives’ Shorts truly shows why Ives is a master of the short form.

Featuring Stacia Schaum, Bobby Smith, Grayson Beverly, Baily Preston, Carol Jacqueline, Elsa Hargis, Todd Padgett, Annie Brundage, Nicole Greenwood

A Short Evening of David Ives’ Shorts

February 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, & 17 @ 7:30 pm
February 5, 12, & 18 @ 2:30 pmBunbury Theatre
The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!