Pavilion TheatreTHE OPENING musical sequence of Rough Magic’s production of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suiteimmediately locates the 1968 play in its original context.
The characters shimmy in with such burlesque bounce that you half expect them to break into song: one of the joyous numbers from Simon’s musical Sweet Charity, perhaps. Instead, we have to settle for the sassy, snappy, sardonic one-liners that characterise the best of Simon’s stage work.
Simon’s play is set in Suite 719 of New York’s Plaza Hotel, and over three acts we witness three discrete dramas that have unfolded in the salubrious suite. In the first act, an anniversary celebration becomes the prelude to a break-up.
In the second, a Hollywood producer seduces an old flame. In the concluding part, a family unravels as they prepare to walk their only daughter down the aisle.
The situations that Simon puts his characters in are extreme, but none are as extreme as the characters themselves.
It is hard to choose a hysterical favourite.
Would it be Karen Ardiff’s middle-aged housewife, sharing intimacies and champagne with the busboy, or her perma-tanned, six-packed husband, played by a follically unrecognisable Mark Lambert?
Would it be Darragh Kelly’s sleazy Mr Famous Hollywood Producer or Ali White’s virginal Muriel Tate, for whom celebrity is an aphrodisiac?
Or would it be Val Sherlock’s endless supply of ridiculous wigs, which become a character in themselves as they transform even Carl Kennedy’s tiny roles into moments of rich hilarity?
Plaza Suiteis usually played with a single cast doubling up in each of the mini-dramas. Rough Magic, however, uses three separate casts, giving an opportunity to some of Ireland’s finest actors to indulge themselves in Simon’s clever verbal sparring and visual slapstick.
The vision of an austere-looking Nick Dunning draped in the suite’s doorway, drenched and doused in pigeon shit, or Eleanor Methven sinking to the floor in faux-faint, are just two of the many moments that will keep a smile on your face for weeks.
Rough Magic also use three directors for each of the acts – Sophie Motley, Aoife Spillane-Hicks and Matt Torney – and while there are no major inconsistencies in the evening’s through-line, there are no particularly distinguishing directorial flourishes either.
Instead, the directors yield humbly to Simon’s acerbic and absurd vision of the world, and this makes for a fantastically enjoyable night at the theatre.
Until July 30th.