Stage Raw: “Adept performances” in PERFECT TIMING

Just as there are films we call chick flicks and books we call chick lit, so there are plays that for want of a better term you might refer to as chick theater.

Kristi Kane’s Perfect Timing is such a play. Directed by Bruce Gray on a tasteful elegant set (designer Jeff G. Rack), It’s a pretty piece of fluff with Noel Coward-like overtones. The script – which premiered in Van Nuys in 1981 – isn’t new or fresh or deep, but overall the production is entertaining and well-done.

The play is set in the frou-frou neighborhood of Knightsbridge, London, at some indeterminate time “before cell phones and the internet.” Cordelia (Helen Anker) is an art critic engaged to a stuffy banker named Alex (Martin Thompson) who sometimes sleeps over but still has his own place.

Cordelia’s housemate is her administrative assistant Vivianna (Christine Joelle), a composed and organized woman – in contrast to Cordelia, a social butterfly who gets flustered if the doorbell and telephone ring at the same time.

The action gets going when Gerrard (Shawn Savage), a handsome hunky artist, makes a surprise entrance into Cordelia’s living room and declares himself smitten by her charms. Cordelia is pretty taken with him too. She’s now faced with a choice between boring reliable Alex and this new dishy dude – a nice guy, as it turns out, but low wattage in the thinking department.

Cordelia’s third option – the most attractive of all – is to do them both. She goes for it, and the rest of the play tracks the permutations of her love life as her lovers exit her world and then re-enter it, sometimes with new paramours of their own in tow.

Perfect Timing isn’t the most keenly plotted sex farce; some of the situations which put Cordelia in a tizzy are overly contrived, even for this genre. But adept performances keep you interested and amused.

As a prig Thompson’s timing and deportment are faultless. Savage is charming as a dim but affable bloke from a working class background, unaccustomed to the hypocrisies of the middle class. And Joelle turns the self-effacing Vivianna into someone to really care about.

As Cordelia, Anker’s delivery is stagier and less convincing. There’s a spillover between the poseur element in the character and the performance itself. Both could use more layers.