Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 22, 2019

REVIEW: Barrington Stage, “Time Flies, and Other Comedies”

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA
through July 27, 2019
by Shera Cohen

Five actors + six short plays = an evening of continuous laughter and delight courtesy of playwright David Ives. The quintet of players depicts the characters of each play, and the plays’ scripts are disconnected from each other.

To some degree, Ives might be the Neil Simon of the 21st century. Except Ives’ work is funnier, edgy, and strange, with no audience investment in his characters; Simon is far more verbose, and his characters portray the guy next door. On second thought, Ives and Simon are quite dissimilar except for two commonalities: their immense popularity and copious volume of excellent work.

Four of the five actors are Barrington Stage (BSC) “regulars”: Debra Jo Rupp, Jeff McCarthy, Carson Elrod, and Cary Donaldson. Equally talented is newcomer Ruth Pferdehirt. The ensemble work is clean and smooth, as executed by director Tracy Brigden.

The Barrington Stage’s audience found each of the six plays hilarious, although the last vignette, an Agatha Christie spoof titled “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage,” is rather cliché, and not up to par with Ives’ other works.

Photo by Tracy Brigden
Debra Jo Rupp, a standout at BSC for the past several years, is a breath of fresh air. Rupp is petite but mighty, using every second onstage as an opportunity to shine. She never stands still, always buzzing around this way and that. It’s no surprise that she portrays a mayfly (yes, an insect) in “Time Flies.” Rupp and her bug boyfriend portrayed by Cary Donaldson are a hoot as they meet, court, marry, get pregnant, and die. After all, the lifespan of a mayfly is only one day.

BSC is purposely cheap on costumes and props, adding to the humor, especially in “Variations on the Death of Trotsky.” For the duration of the play, one actor sports an ax plunged into his head.

“Enigma Variations,” the funniest of the six, presents a play on words of words that mean other words. No, I am not being repetitive or redundant. Ives has invented two sets of doppelgänger women and doppelgänger psychotherapists all of whom treat their conversations as a fast and furious ping-pong match.

The only recommendation to be made that would upgrade “Time Flies” from 4.5 stars to 5 stars, would be to switch the order, ending with “Enigma”. Everything else is perfect.