Sunday, August 10, 2008

Neil Simon

Neil Simon's comedies are among my favorites, especially The Odd Couple in its film version with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. I was pleasantly entertained today by a superb production of another of his comedies, Plaza Suite, by the Eclipse Theatre Company at the Victory Garden Greenhouse Theater.

Plaza Suite consists of three one-act comedies with the same setting, a suite at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The original Broadway production featured George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton as the leads in all three of the acts. In the current revival the Eclipse director, Steve Scott, cast different actors in each of the roles and found an excellent ensemble. Cece Klinger excelled as ever (I enjoyed her recent performance in Tennessee Williams' Candles to the Sun) and Nathaniel Swift stood out as Jesse in the second act; while the duo of Cheri Chenoweth and Jon Steinhagen as Norma and Roy in the last act were electric in a bravura farcical episode.

One of the beauties of Simon's comedy is how the humor arises naturally from the situations and characters. In the afternoon talk-back discussion following the play some of the cast shared how they interpreted the text to produce the effective character details that made the afternoon enjoyable for the audience. This was a satisfying production of one of Neil Simon's classic comedies.

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