Hedgerow Offers Neil Simon’s Comedy, PLAZA SUITE, Still Relevant Today

by Lila Achuff

It’s fun and laughs at Neil Simon’s comedy, PLAZA SUITE at Hedgerow in Rose Valley, PA. I’m not sounding very convincing even to myself. This production, directed by Janet Kelsey, was done in two acts with there being no connection between the two acts other than they both take place in Suite 719 at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.  However, please know that the original play consisted of three unconnected acts. Just as well. Two was enough (for me). Stay with me on this.

Penelope Reed and Zoran Kovcic in the first act of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite play a wedded couple revisiting their honeymoon suite. Performances continue at Hedgerow Theatre through March 6. (Photo by Rick Prieur)

First, allow me to bring you up to snuff on my brief “history” of this show. It had a very short run on Broadway in 1968.  Simon adapted his play for the 1971 film of the same name. (I’ll be watching it this weekend.) Brief enough?

Both acts are represented by a married couple, and both couples are portrayed by the real-life husband and wife team of Penelope Reed, the Artistic Director of Hedgerow, and Zoran Kovcic, its General Manager. Perhaps this explains why there was a full house the evening I was there. So exciting! Hope this continues throughout your run.

ACT I finds Sam and Karen Nash about to celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary in Suite 719 at the ritzy Plaza Hotel in New York. However, Sam seems to be oblivious to all this as he claims to have too much work to do; he’s too busy to enjoy the romantic evening his wife has planned for them. Now here’s the rub: Karen lets us know, more than once, that she is 47 and Sam is 51. I’m somewhat speechless here … either you up the years, leave them out or get younger actors to fill those roles. Enough said.

Are you familiar with the expression, “Life is what happens when we’re making other plans.”? That’s Act I in a nutshell. Sam and Karen are in the same room but they’re not on the same train. While she’s trying to pull their marriage together, he’s more intent on pulling it apart. When a couple is having a marital crisis even for “pretend”, I’m hard pressed to find the humor in that. Penelope and Zoran, you were very convincing as the sad and hurting couple, Karen and Sam.

So here they are again in ACT II… Suite 719 at the Plaza Hotel. Now they are all dressed up and ready to go … to their daughter’s costly wedding. Everyone is waiting… downstairs. Problem: daughter Mimsey has locked herself in the bathroom because she’s having second thoughts about going through with it. Norma and Roy Hubley, the parents, are slapstick crazy in trying to convince her to come out. My sense of humor was kicking in for ACT II… Hallelujah! Suggestion: When Mr. Hubley came in out of the rain, would it have been too much trouble (unsafe maybe?) to dump some water on him to make his re-entrance appear more authentic? I’m envisioning it and finding that hilarious! Go for it!

You’ll just have to come see it to catch the ending.

(Mr. Simon, in case you’re reading this…I truly appreciate that you’ve shared so many of your own life experiences with us in all your writings. You make us laugh; you make us cry; you make us think. For that, I honor you.)

You never know, Readers! It’s a small world…

Until the next show…

by Neil Simon
Directed by Janet Kelsey
February 9-March 6, 2011
Hedgerow Theatre
64 Rose Valley Road
Rose Valley, PA

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