Corrections or additions?

This review by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the August 16, 2000

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Broadway Review: `Hotel Suite’

Some of us may think of playwright Neil Simon’s canon

of joke-punctuated plays as the epitome of retro, when, in fact, the

majority of them appear to this critic to be as observantly glib and

gleeful as any of the best contemporary sit-coms. Even in his later

plays, when his style is more deliberately introspective, wise, and

sentimental, there is the mark of the slick and polished professional

at work.

"Neil Simon’s Hotel Suite," at the Gramercy Theater, is a

deftly combined program of four plays: two from the former period

and two from the latter. Together they form a sort of suite of sweets

and bittersweets.

Lifted and slightly reconfigured from the trio of "Suites"

— "Plaza," "California," and "London"

— the gimmick is no longer the clash of different couples who

have booked the same suite, but rather the continuing saga of two

couples, each of whom revisits a different suite.

The first and third plays are lifted from "California" and

"London." They are about "Diane and Sidney," an

actress

(played with delightful eclat by Helen Carey) and her bi-sexual

husband,

an ex-actor currently an antique dealer (played with disarming panache

by Leigh Lawson). Listening to these posy and posh Brits examine their

relationship and their marriage, you may think Simon has wandered

into Noel Coward country.

In Hollywood, where Diane is a nominee for the Academy

Award, and both are buoyed by alcohol, they bait each other with

brittle

banter both before and after the ceremony. In the subsequent play,

Diane is now a successful sit-com star. When Sidney, who is currently

living with his cancer-stricken male lover in Greece, asks for

financial

aid from Diane, his request becomes complicated by a revelation that

puts a very poignant spin on things.

The second and fourth plays are pure farce and driven by appropriately

manic performances. In "Visitor from Philadelphia," Marvin

(Ron Orbach), who has come to L.A. a day ahead of his wife to attend

his nephew’s bar mitzvah, wakes up to find a hooker (Amanda

Serkasevich)

asleep in his bed. With no memory of the night before, and unable

to rouse her from her apparently drunken stupor, he attempts to keep

his wife (Randy Graff) from finding her in his bed. She does, and

things get hilariously messy.

In "Visitor from Forest Hills" we meet the same couple, years

later at the Plaza, where they are marrying off their daughter. The

bride-to-be (Serkasevich), however, is having second thoughts and

has locked herself in the bathroom. The set-up and the resolve are

fraught with mayhem. Director John Tillinger keeps the cast swirling

and sweating through this breezy hot-weather entertainment.

HHH

— Simon Saltzman

Neil Simon’s Hotel Suite, Gramercy Theater, 127 East 23rd

Street, New York, 212-777-4900. $55. Through September 10.


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