Follow TV Tropes


Creator / David Ives

Go To

You gather an audience, you do a headstand to get everyone's attention, and then you're free to explore beauty, poetry, truth, the human condition, what you will. Now that's an education.
David Ives, on learning the value of theatrics from a middle-school English teacher

David Ives is probably best known for his short plays, which in turn are best known for their cleverness, brevity (we did mention they were short plays?) and their minimal staging requirements. For these reasons, they tend to be popular with college students and actors-in-training.

Most of his short works are published in the collections All in the Timing and Time Flies. These include:

He's also done some full length works, including an adaptation of Moliere's The Misanthrope (under the title The School For Lies) and an original play called Venus in Fur as well as the book to Here We Are, the final musical composed by Stephen Sondheim.

David Ives' Work Shows Examples of the Following Tropes:

  • Black Comedy: "Variations on the Death of Trotsky" consists of Leon Trotsky being murdered in a variety of creative and entertaining ways.
  • Book Ends: The Green Hill and Ancient History end with the first lines of the play repeated word for word. The result is a sad irony, as the loving first lines have been contradicted in the ensuing time.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Speed-the-Play", as part of its parody of the David Mamet's style.
  • God Was My Copilot: In Venus in Fur, Thomas is suspicious almost from the beginning as to the identity of Vanda, or Wanda, this strange actress (or so she claims) who has by turn amused, awed, abused, revolted, seduced, tormented, dominated, and been dominated by him. How does she know everything she knows, including many things that should be secret? How can she be such a brilliant, versatile actress, able to ad-lib, at the drop of a hat, an entirely new scene, and an entirely new character, perfectly, in a way that vastly improves the play, and yet be such an apparent dolt when she speaks out of character? At the end, of course, she demands that he tell her who she really is, and he answers that she is Venus herself. As to whether that's literally true, well, the play is ambivalent.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop:
    • In "Sure Thing", the conversation skips backwards to the point where it derailed and they try again.
    • In the full-length Ancient History (basically a tragic "Sure Thing") it's also used for Book Ends.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: "Sure Thing": In the ideal timeline, Bill went to Harvard. Betty wants to send their kids to Harvard, Vassar, and Brown.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter: The three main characters of Words, Words, Words are supposed to be empirically proving the theory.
    But do you think it's Hamlet?
    Don't ask me. I'm just a chimp!
  • Napoleon Delusion: "Degas, C'est Moi" revolves around a man who decides to be the painter Edgar Degas for a day in order to escape his wretchedly mundane life.
  • Narrator: The Loudspeaker in "English Made Simple". Borders on Interactive Narrator, except the characters don't always listen to him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Very much averted. Ives plays have prominently featured Leon Trotsky, Edgar Degas, and David Attenborough (Time Flies), among others.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Sure Thing", in the middle of Betty's monologue interrogating Bill about his intentions (also the only paragraph in a play made up of mostly one sentence small talk).
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • "Time Flies", about two mayflies realizing they are going to die tomorrow.
    • "Soap Opera", romance and intrigue with a washing machine (incidentally featuring a string of soap puns).
    • "Babel's in Arms", about the Tower of Babel.
  • Punny Name: May and Horace, the titular flies of "Time Flies". May Fly is obvious, you might have to say Horace Fly out loud before you get it.
  • Secret Identity: "Mere Mortals". A group of constructions workers come clean to each other about their own secret identities, although the play is ambivalent about whether they are delusional or not. The first believes himself to be the Lindberg Baby. The others are... even less plausible.
  • Shout-Out: "Sure Thing" contains shout-outs to The Sound and the Fury, the New York Mets, Oral Roberts University, Django Reinhardt, Entenmann's crumb cake, Etch-a-sketch, and Woody Allen's Bananas.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism:
    • "Time Flies" has a man and a woman dressed for a night out. Except they also have antennae, wings, etc. And this 'night out' is the only night they'll have.
    • The script for "Words, Words, Words" specifically forbids the use of costume or make-up to indicate that the simian characters are not human; the only costume they should be wearing is the clothing the characters themselves would be wearing (ie. the kind of outfits trained chimps are put in when they're pretending to do human things).