The Timing Of A Day
nytheatre.com review by E. Michael Lockley
August 21, 2010
The Timing of a Day reminds us that you've got to do your best to enjoy life, instead of rushing through what can sometimes seem to be the simple moments. Starting in 2007, current roommates and close friends Doug and Josh allow Paige to move into the apartment. Over the span of two years we see the ups and downs of their individual lives and their household. Friendships turn into potential relationships, which then turn into relationships gone wrong. The play is centered around a major event that happens within the first few minutes of the play which helps to frame the audience's experience and affects all of the roommates. I don't want to divulge "the event," so as not to ruin it for those of you who will see the play, but it is integral to the overall arc of the story.
The non-linear structure of the scenes really keeps the show engaging and makes a clear commentary on time. It's difficult to discuss some of the specific moments of the show without revealing "the event," however getting to see these roommates and artists go through their various disappointments and revelations was nearly like chatting with my friends. It is a very New York, artist type of show, but the themes of roommate drama and getting older and going after your dreams allow for nearly anyone to access it. The structure makes you question whether a moment is truly just one fleeting moment, or whether it should mean much more. An example is when Doug, a gay single man and Josh, a straight single man, have to witness their female roommate, Paige, with her boyfriend. Doug and Josh are lonely, and jealous of Paige's relationship, and the two get drunk. Doug and Josh kiss and then have a mini-make-out session. Josh takes it as a mistake, something that shouldn't have happened, but Doug secretly has feelings for Josh, and finally reveals them. Josh just gets upset and attempts to act like the kiss never happened. For Josh, the kiss was clearly a moment, but for Doug it was the possibility of a overwhelming hope becoming a reality.
"Here today, gone tomorrow" is an idea that I felt was prevalent throughout the storytelling. And the transitions between scenes help to discuss how our everyday routines may not seem so "everyday" in the face of tragedy. Director Joey Brenneman strongly captures the tone of the play with her staging and with the talented cast (Nik Kourtis, Adam Shorsten, R. Elizabeth Woodard, Justin Anselmi). In a play that utilizes time so prevalently, the characters feel real; the urgency of their needs—love, a job, a career—is very clear and not overdone. The dialogue, provided by playwright Owen Panettieri reminded me of Friends, where the execution of the text is naturalistic but simultaneously very comedic. It makes for thought-provoking, but funny dialogue.
The Catch-22 of the play is that while "the event" is certainly the most significant moment of the play, it is revealed so early that all of the other moments feel insignificant. Perhaps this is the point. It's difficult to determine, because a prominent theme is the rushing that we do (especially in NYC). So perhaps these other "non-life-changing" scenes are supposed to feel casual because we rush through them. Either way, I think I would have liked to have seen "the event" later in the play or have the "how the event happened" be revealed later in the play. Additionally, there's a dream sequence or an alternate reality segment at the end of the play that feels a little out of place and seems to confuse the theme of "inevitability." However overall, I left the theatre reconsidering time and the time we spend. Ultimately I'm sure that that was the point.