We round up the reviews for Neil Simon’s comedy, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
The Wall Street Journal: “Even Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker can’t rescue Neil Simon’s 1968 comedy from its own fustiness.”
Entertainment Weekly: “Their interplay fizzes with physical comedy, a mood that carries through Act III when they become Norma and Ray Hubley, two middle-aged pillars of New York suburbia desperate to see their 21-year-old daughter (Veldheer again) married to the shaggy-haired boy waiting downstairs, if only she’ll deign to come out of the bathroom. Parker wiggles and dips in her floral mother-of-the-bride finery; Broderick flails in his morning-suit tails. It’s goofy and charming and deeply silly, and the audience, at least on this night, roared their approval.”
New York Times: “If it’s hard to find the funny in this setup, it’s harder to buy the sad in its payoff; the evident affection between Parker and Broderick, who are married in real life, extinguishes the spark of fury needed to ignite both laughs and pathos. (The original stars were the far more tempestuous George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton.)”
The Wrap: “Parker is as hard-working as Broderick is relaxed. She’s always engaging because she’s always coming up with some novel bit of business or an unusual line reading to keep us distracted from the fact that what she’s doing and what she’s saying is often not very inspired on the part of Simon. Congrats are in order here for Parker’s director, John Benjamin Hickey.”
Washington Post: “Parker and Broderick star in all three of the evening’s one-act plays, each built around a couple in Room 719 of the Plaza Hotel — a classic Simon setup that accords them both ample opportunity for high-caliber cavorting and clowning. They’ve found a winning collaborator in director John Benjamin Hickey, himself an actor with well-developed muscles for vinegary farce. On this occasion they do proud the memory of Simon, once the undisputed king of comedy on Broadway, where in his heyday in the late-middle 20th century he had multiple hits running at the same time.”
Variety: “But the real-life married couple bring a serious commitment to the spirit of the work, allowing their own personas to throw some metatextual sparks without overtaking the spirit of Simon. As directed by John Benjamin Hickey, Parker and Broderick provoke, alienate and woo one another, and provide a strong argument for a playwright whose work seems next-to-impossible to subvert.”
Time Out: *** “Its main characters are mostly middle-aged, and so is the writing; it is now over 50, and its comic cheek is showing some laugh lines. But the vestiges of laughs are nice wrinkles, as wrinkles go, and while this production doesn’t leave you rolling in the aisles, it is likely to at least leave you smiling.”
The Guardian: *** Parker and Broderick, long married in real life, are the motivating force for this revival, directed by the Tony-winning actor John Benjamin Hickey. They appear in every scene, each of them set in suite 719 of the Plaza. The suite, designed by John Lee Beatty, is by the way, a triumph; it looks like the French rococo threw up on itself, exclusively in beige. And the period-perfect costumes, by Jane Greenwood, are by and large a treat.”
Hollywood Reporter: “Broderick and Parker modulate their physical and vocal performances throughout, working up to a hint of crassness that never becomes cartoonish in the final act. If their choice of material is questionable, their commitment to it is not. Parker ultimately walks away with the show; she doesn’t lose the mannerisms that have become essential parts of her screen persona, but she molds them into three distinct characters, finding obvious enjoyment in reconnecting with her stage roots.”
Deadline: “Directed by John Benjamin Hickey with a clear reverence for Simon and the theatrical era in which his 1968 comedy titillated matinee audiences, this new Plaza Suite feels mostly like an exercise in nostalgia – for a couple we’ve watched grow up, for a Broadway that demands little, and for the late playwright whose contributions to popular culture go far beyond this mid-level effort.”
WhatsOnStage: **** “Broderick and Parker go way harder than they need to, and audiences specifically going for them (which, let’s face it, they are) won’t be left disappointed. All three pieces happen to be great vehicles for Parker, who creates a trio of expert and unique characterizations that allow us to see much more of her dramatic range than is usually on display (though anybody who remembers the aftermath of the Post-it breakup will know it’s always been there).”
Plaza Suite continues to play at the Hudson Theatre.