"Sure Thing" by David Ives
The Play "Sure Thing" from David Ives examines the endless variations of boy meet girl and the ensuing pick up lines. The central theme throughout the play displays a few varieties of a possible conversation that end with a ringing bell that symbolizes a fresh start and a second chance to make a good impression.
The swift conversations begin in a coffee house with the two main and only characters are Bill and Betty. From the beginning till the end of the play one can see a series of pick up lines, from a man to a woman sitting in a coffee shop reading. The lines start out short and rapid with an equivalent short response from the woman.
Similar to a boxing match, two people on a date consistently bounce around calculated prose between each other, trying to figure out the opponent's “weaknesses.” This notion manifests itself in literature in such works as David Ives' play Sure Thing, a piece employing rapid-fire lines between a guy and a girl getting to know each other. However, this theme is not always prevalent in positive dialogue, as in Tennessee Williams' A Street Car Named Desire, Blanche and Stanley do not go on a date or enjoy any romantic dialogue, but fight each other for supremacy of the house and Stella's affection. Although a boxing rhythm is being imposed on Sure Thing, the persistent fighting between Stanley and Blanche in A Street Car Named Desire can be interpreted to have a similar rhythm. Although these two texts are seemingly opposite in mood and plot, the “ boxing rhythm” bridges this chasm through the rhythm of the dialogue between these characters. In Ives’ Sure Thing, a guy, Bill, and a girl, Betty, “duke it out” in an attempt to get to know each other and, ultimately, fall for each other. In order to do this, they deliver quick one-liners between each other, similar to the spasmodic jabs of a boxing match. Of course, there is no observable or salient evidence of boxing within the text, but the rhythm of the dialogue can be inferred to mimic the motions of a boxing match. The dialogue is quick, decisive and succinct, similar to the jabs and steps a boxer uses in a fight. There are several questions repeated as well, as the guy or girl has, in effect, stopped the rhythm and said the wrong thing. For instance, in one vignette Betty asks Bill about his love life and the dialogue is punctuated by the sound of a “bell” which further reinforces the boxing theme: Bill: That’s a very nice offer, but…
Betty: Uh-huh. Girlfriend?
Bill: Two, actually. One of them’s pregnant, and Stephanie- (Bell).
Bill: No, I don’t have a girlfriend. Not if you mean the castrating bitch I dumped last night.
(Bell). (Ives 13)
In this excerpt, the dialogue is quick and succinct, like the punches thrown in a boxing match. This couple takes “jabs” at each other through discourse instead of physical punching. Every time a round is over, the bell rings, illustrating a dead-end for the dialogue between the Bill and Betty. Theses “rounds” are prevalent in A Street Car Named Desire between Stanley and Blanche, despite not being a couple or mutually interested in each other. With the apartment serving as the backdrop for this “fight”, Stanley and Blanche box it out while the rest of the characters are sometimes relegated to spectators throughout the story. Similar to Sure Thing, there is no tangible “boxing ring” or anything having to do with boxing. Instead, Williams injects this rhythm within the dialogue between these characters, creating a stylistic counterpoint of aggression, violence and adultery. In fact, Stanley and Blanche drive the Streetcar Named Desire through the play,...