Neil Simon’s London Suite, now playing at The Group Rep, follows the schemes of his previous plays, California Suite and Plaza Suite, in which four short plays are presented in two acts all in the same hotel. The comedic styles range in forms and situations from brittle humor at the outset to outrageous slapstick at the end, with two amusingly sentimental offerings slipped in between.
“Settling Accounts” starts out with a somewhat inebriated Brian (Neil Thompson) leveling a small, snub-nosed pistol at Billy (Paul Cady) and promising to blow his brains out. Brian is a successful writer whose money manager, Billy, has made fast and loose with the authors money, leaving him penniless. Lots of threats are met with humina-humina evasions leading to an hilarious resolution.
“In Going Home,” two American women are on a shopping spree in London. Lauren (Joelle Arqueros) has a hard time persuading her reluctant, widowed, middle-aged mother, (Janet Wood), to get out and enjoy some time with an older Scotsman they met on the flight over. She reluctantly makes the date and returns in the early morning with a ribald tale to tell.
After the intermission, “Diana & Sydney” changes the pace, keeping the action light-hearted, yet decidedly emotional. Diana (vivacious Susan Priver), a wildly successful television star, gets a visit from her gay ex-husband, Sidney (suave Doug Haverty). His partner, a poor artist, is in need of medical care and Sidney makes the pitch for funds. Sascha Vanderslik as Diana’s assistant, Grace, makes a delightful impression in her two brief appearances.
“The Man on the Floor” closes the show with an outrageous, go-for-broke, slapstick extravaganza. Mark (the ear-piercingly loud, extraordinarily nimble, athletic Christian Land) painfully throws his back out of joint so badly that he can’t straighten up and must creep around the stage with his hands on the floor and his butt in the air. Various people show up and eventually everyone winds up entangled on the floor. It must be seen to to be believed.
Director Doug Engalla keeps the action rolling assisted by Bita Arefnia. Original music is by Marc Antonio Pritchett, with set design by Haverty/Emmett; lighting design by Douglas Gabrielle; costume design by Angela M. Eads; sound design by Steve Shaw; and props by Joseph Marcelo. John Ledley manages the stage and Alyson York is producer.
London Suite runs through October 24, 2021. Friday and Saturday Evenings at 8:00 pm. Sunday Matinees at 2:00.
Special ADDED Saturday Matinees at 1:00 pm: 9/25, 10/2, 10/9, 10/16, & 10/23.