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
"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
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
(played with delightful eclat by Helen Carey) and her bi-sexual
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
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
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
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.
— Simon Saltzman
Street, New York, 212-777-4900. $55. Through September 10.
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