Wick Theatre Company’s entry for the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2018 was a timely tribute to Neil Simon.
The American playwright died on August 26 at the age of 91, so the performances at The Barn Theatre in Southwick from last Wednesday to Saturday were probably the first time his comedy Plaza Suite had been seen on stage since his passing.
Set in a luxury hotel in New York in 1968, it is a bit dated, to be fair, but there are some great lines in there and the Wick cast really got the best out of it.
There are three acts, each a different story set in the same suite, and the second, Visitor From Holloywood, featured John Garland as Jesse Kiplinger and Victoria Thomson as Muriel Tate.
It was potentially a bit sleazy, with the movie producer inviting his old flame over for ‘drinks’, but adjudicator Jane Collins praised the pair for the way they handled it.
Victoria, who also played secretary Jean McCormack in act one, was by far the stand out performer of the night, especially in her role as Jesse, where her characterisation was over the top but to the point of being just right.
Jane said Victoria was ‘spot on’ and added the rest of the cast could have been a bit ‘bigger’, more bold and brash, as an American would be.
The first story, Visitor From Mamaroneck, was the longest and really quite poignant.
Mike Wells played Sam Nash and Barbara Isaacs was his wife Karen Nash, a couple married for 34 years, though they could not agree the correct date for their anniversary. As it turned out, Sam did not care much, either, as he had been having an affair with his secretary and Barbara played her part very well in response the news. It was a very touching exploration of a long-standing relationship but had some laugh-out-loud moments in between the sadness.
The final act, Visitor From Forest Hills, featured Roger Frederick as Roy Hubley and Pam Luxton as Norma Hubley, the parents of a bride-to-be who refuses to leave the bathroom.
Their antics as they made every effort to get her out of there were hilarious, each feeding off each other to get the best laughs.
Overall, Jane said the cast had been engaging, making for a very enjoyable evening.
She was rightly impressed by the set, which cleverly divided the suite into two separate rooms, and said the actors used the space well.