The Greville Theatre Club

Plaza Suite

by Neil Simon

October 2005

Directed by
Diana Bradley


Review: Toby Allanson

As Neil Simon's Plaza Suite proved so readily, there is no more potent ingredient for rip-roaring comedy than other people's misery.

The Greville Theatre Club's production at Little Easton's Barn Theatre on Saturday detailed three sad stories of marriages in crisis, all arriving at crossroads in suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel, New York City.

These were relationships where the love had gone to be replaced by frustration, or worse, acceptance and as each character's life unravelled, the laughs got louder.

In all three acts it was without doubt the women who had the most significant roles and in Jan Ford, Carol Parradine and Marcia Baldry, director Diana Bradley had three aces in her pack more than capable of shouldering this dramatic burden.  All were terrific, with faultless American accents and tremendous comic timing that had the audience in fits.

What was most impressive about their performances though was that among the many laughs there was also pathos.  We felt for Karen Nash (Ford) as her husband revealed his dirty secret, we empathised with Muriel Tate (Parradine) as she was confronted with what might have been and pitied Norma Hubley (Baldry) as her marital problems were thrust in her face by her own daughter.

Of the supporting actors, Andy Jameson was the epitome of a Texan oligarch with a larger than life performance to suit his frame; Steve Bradley slimed his way through his role as a sleazy Hollywood producer and Rod Foster was the archetypal workaholic as Sam Nash.  In truth, Simon's script did not offer the men as much scope to shine as it did the women. They were essentially there for the more developed and interesting female characters to bounce off and did their jobs well.

This was a hugely enjoyable production, although given its rather cynical attitude towards marriage, perhaps not recommended viewing for engaged couples! 

The play's run continues tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. Call 01371 873419 for ticket information.



Review by Pat Rudkins