All the Help You Need
nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
August 15, 2004
All the Help You Need, the one-act play written and performed by Tim Ryan, reflects Ryan’s experiences as a handyman in Hollywood as he pursues his acting career. As a showcase, this piece permits him to display his facility with accents, characters, and movement. Among his characters is Werner, a German contractor who exacts fast, precise work from his employees, perfection few can meet. An orthodox Jew is another, and there are a few hookers and housewives thrown in. In between the hour of anecdotes, Ryan slips his fingers into the holes of wooden cube props (constructed by Richard Meinelschmidt) to rearrange the stage for each story. He does this inadvertently, artfully, and these moments are almost intimate compared to the energetic pace of his tale-telling.
The stories themselves are the kind you welcome at the dinner table after a routine day at the office—witty, eccentric, and lively. Strung together, they are still witty, eccentric, and lively, and we have a good idea that Ryan must be a tolerant and flexible individual to be able to work with the clients he encounters in his day job. As an evening of art, the tales amuse, though cumulatively, they do not necessarily pack the same punch as one or two told over rice and beans. Halfway through, the unusual is expected. Perhaps the actor knows this, because he ups the stakes with a final story—the only serious one—that is so outrageous that it lacks the credibility of the others. The audience is left to ponder what to make of the mystical ending. Did this really happen? If so, some authenticating is in order to maintain the consistency of the previous 45 minutes.
All the Help You Need is directed by Christopher Fessenden and can be seen at the Access Theatre.