Two Timing, Roadworks Productions, at Victory Gardens Theater. Canadian playwright and monologuist Daniel MacIvor has a knack for freshening up familiar material with clever, innovative structures. Violating linearity, he may reimagine corporate competition as a 13-round boxing match or interrupt a standard family drama with dance numbers, flashbacks, and confessional monologues. This formal inventiveness works well in insightful sketch comedies like the wickedly funny, occasionally eerie corporate-culture satire Never Swim Alone, half of Roadworks' evening of MacIvor works. Reprising their roles from the late-night hit, Matt Gibson and Danny McCarthy again display their dazzling physical prowess as two glad-handing suits who pursue corporate success with the determination and agility of ferocious synchronized swimmers.
But MacIvor struggles when he tackles more emotionally challenging material in The Soldier Dreams, in which a young man on his deathbed remembers his past while his lover and relatives hold a vigil beside him. Despite some perceptive observations and a couple of fine performances (most notably from Patrick Populorum as the dying man's alter ego and Coby Goss as a German med student), MacIvor's numerous digressions seem designed to distract from the broad characters, glib dialogue, and stock situations. Much of what he intends as straight pathos or a critique of hypocritical family ritual registers as sitcom hollowness.
Also included are two brief MacIvor monologues, which are vaguely diverting but seem afterthoughts; neither lives up to the high standards set by Never Swim Alone. --Adam Langer