In a town filled with great theater and theater companies, it is tough to stand out sometimes. And even in standing out, it can be challenging to maintain momentum without getting lost in the shuffle. The plucky Attic Salt Theatre Company, with its determination, strong work ethic and high standards, has become the little theater engine that could. It helps that the group’s members are likable and have formed strong alliances with many local theater companies, allowing Attic Salt to produce shows on borrowed stages. The latest collaboration comes from the North Carolina Stage Company as part of its Catalyst Series. Attic Salt and N.C. Stage share similar sensibilities for small casts and crowd-pleasing shows that also challenge audiences.
The latest offering, All in the Timing by David Ives, is a show familiar to anyone who has been a part of a college theater program during the past 20 years. It is a collection of smart, savvy and funny one-act plays. Ives’s writing is challenging yet accessible for young actors, and the short form is perfect for scene-study work. The random tales and quirky sketches also play perfectly for audiences outside of the collegiate settings.
Attic Salt artistic director Jeff Catanese has assembled an equally quirky trio of actors, who assay a variety of roles throughout the evening, moving rapidly from one scene to the next with dexterity. The scenes are not connected and feel random as they shift from one bizarre contrivance to another. The through-line is the cast — the actors shift from one situation to the next with ease. Scott Fisher, Kirby Gibson and Garrett Funk not only work well together on stage but are clearly having fun.
The sketches are a hodge-podge. A boy-meets-girl comedy keeps getting interrupted by a dinging bell, allowing the characters to go back a few lines and correct the path to a perfect relationship. In another scenario, the death of Socialist revolutionary Leon Trotsky is repeatedly reenacted. It may not seem like a good topic for a comedy show, but ends up being funnier than one might think. The same is true for a scene where a stammering young woman seeks to learn a new language. She encounters a man who only speaks to her in this unknown tongue until she adapts to it. The winner of the evening is the scene that presents the audience with three monkeys with typewriters, attempting to prove that they can eventually accidentally stumble onto writing Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The monkeys are named Milton, Swift and Kafka. They wax poetic while eating bananas, typing with their feet and picking nits out of each other’s hair. It’s silly yet heady stuff.
WHAT: All in the Timing by Attic Salt Theatre Company, atticsalt.org
WHERE: N.C. Stage Company, ncstage.org
WHEN: Through Sunday, March 20. Wednesdays to Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, at 2 p.m. $14-$28