KILLING TIME REVIEW
PORTLAND COMEDY TROUPE THE 3RD FLOOR PLAYS WITH TIME IN ‘KILLING TIME’
Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
“Time is an illusion,
albeit a stubborn one,” Albert Einstein said. In
“Killing Time,” the first full-length play
presented by the 3rd Floor, long known as a sketch comedy
troupe, time is very much at issue. What begins as
boilerplate 1940s pulp drama gets several entertainingly
loopy twists courtesy of that time-worn trope, time travel.
But there’s also the matter of how time moves for the theatergoer, and -- much like down-on-his-luck hero Johnny Donovan -- the 3rd Floor finds itself in unfamiliar territory here. Director Tony St. Clair keeps the many characters and shifting locales moving nimbly, but the need to lay out a cohesive narrative constrains the troupe’s characteristic zig-zag logic and the wild energy it can provide.
For the first act, that is. After intermission, the groundwork laid, things take off, reaching an inspired apotheosis with Andrew Harris as a philosophizing, healthy-living Sid Vicious hanging out with his pal Stephen Hawking.
The company’s sketch shows often are dominated by men, so it’s nice here to see such fine performances by women: Diane DeHaven, showing comic versatility in a variety of roles, Suzanne Tufan, who has a lustrous singing voice and the perfect look for a period heroine, and Emily Gleason, who struggles a bit on the singing but glimmers sweetly as a rich ingenue.
What really works is when plotting speeds up enough to accommodate the troupe’s keen sense of the absurd. The overlay of Raymond Chandler-style lead characters and a 1970s punk milieu sparks the sort of belly laughs the more staid first act lacks.
Eventually, it becomes clear that if the 3rd Floor might someday present a disappointing show, that time hasn’t come yet.