I attended the opening night production of The Government Inspector, and, having seen the show already twice before during previews and rehearsals, I had prepared myself for a show that would be changed once again, whether it be in its script, staging, lighting, etc. I just wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by the completely tighter production than I had seen before. The show had changed again! But this time, the change was the timing. They nailed the timing and the focus of the play, and the play beautifully became the play it was supposed to be.
Timing can make, or break, any event. Really truly.
If the comic timing is nailed in a production, then audiences aren’t reading the programs to keep themselves entertained. Timing is also vital to dramatic revelations or surprises, for if the timing isn’t carefully planned for those events either, then audiences are left not caring about that moment. For something so intangible and, at times, incomprehensible, it’s both a shame and exciting that shows depend on timing in order to succeed.
But what’s also exciting about timing is that it’s something that can constantly be re-imagined. Comedy usually works in threes; two setup lines then the punchline, or three seconds of pause, etc. However, that is such a well known tool of comedy, that sometimes even breaking that rhythm is funny! Especially in comic works, writers, directors and performers have so much freedom to explore because they can frequently re-invent the rules. Even timing.
And that was refreshing to see on Saturday in The Government Inspector. I remember, back in the first rehearsal, someone mentioned timing and its role in Oded Gross’s adaptation, and how the first exchange between Anton and Ivan introduces a new type of rhythm and timing into the show, while still paying homage to traditional comedic shtiks.
While the show was good in its preview run, it really came alive on opening night and most, if not all, of the jokes received a good laugh from an enthusiastic crowd. Once they focused on the timing, everything else fell into place.
You could say it’s, “all in the timing”.
Until next time!