Neil Simon is one of the greatest playwrights – ever. He is the consummate neurotic New Yorker, painting accurate portraits of the symbol which epitomizes an actor – the tragic-comic symbol, depicting both the tragic and comic duality of life itself. In particular, in the setting of NYC, and even more particularly the classic Plaza Hotel, to be exact. This show features three vignettes, all taking place in the infamous suite 719, at the Plaza Hotel, overlooking Central Park, in the middle of the island of Manhattan, also the home of the beloved childhood character, Eloise, and also a most successful motion picture Plaza Suite, of the 70’s.
Performed by a very talented cast, (the same actors in each unique scene), Alicia Craff, Karol Garrison, Howard Lockie, and Andrea Stradling, perform a trio of scenarios. The underlying theme throughout each scene is a constant: neurosis and insecurity, in love and marriage. The actors remain constant, only donning different costumes and characters. It’s a portrait of the 60’s, and how dysfuctional couples and families deal with different situations each taking place in the very same hotel suite. The first vignette features a nervous housewife, who checks into the room, wearing a conservative suit, and packing a sexy lingerie, with hopeful wishes for later in the evening; hoping to celebrate her 20th anniversary. She anticipates a momentous occasion, as she awaits her husband’s arrival, and orders champagne and a platter of appetizers, sans anchovies, just as they did 20 years ago in the exact suite. Her husband arrives quite late, frazzled by work. Then an abrupt knock at the door, brings in the sexy secretary, as she surreptitiously announces that he is ‘wanted back at the office’ for a very important conference call. He dabs on cologne, while the wife doth protest too much, and wonders of a potential affair, and ‘that all is not quite right in Denmark.’ She is left alone in the room, as the husband bolts out the door.
The 2nd scene features a Teaneck New Jersey housewife, invited to see her old boyfriend from high school, who has become a successful Hollywood producer. He complains about the shallowness and superficiality and yearns for his sweet, wholesome romance they once had. She has kept up with his exciting new life by reading the dailies, and though is ‘supposedly happily married with kids,’ ( a superficial facade in itself), yearns for more excitement in her life as well. Many scotches later, with the bedroom door ajar, they meander into the bedroom, locked in an embrace to a questionable denouement.
The final vignette shows the frantic mother and father of the bride to be, who has locked herself into the bathroom, with sudden ‘cold feet,’ Meanwhile, the dad complains of the thousands of dollars he has spent on food and music, and the taxing experience he faces, while the daughter’s lack of response adds suspense and reveals all. He begs, pleads, and cajoles, saying “we love you…what’s the problem,?” to no avail. They try humor, tough love, everything, but are only frustrated more. The groom comes in nonchalantly, says the magic words, “cool it!” Immediately the door opens, and she brazenly replies, “let’s get married!”
Neil Simon yet again shines through, with his masterful writing. These three stories with three unique sets of people befallen with dysfunction, each involve life, love, and making other plans, with love gone awry. An elaborate set, authentic period costuming, and wonderful acting bring to life these New York love stories pre “Sex in the City.”
A classic, now playing at the Morgan Wixson Theatre, truly cements the legacy that is Neil Simon.
Morgan Wixson Theatre 2627 Pico Blvd Santa Monica CA
through Feb. 10
Fri. and Sat. 8PM; Sun. 2 PM