Neil Simon’s marital triptych "Plaza Suite" is the final show of the season at the Brown County Playhouse. The attractive production featured Rob and Jennifer Johansen playing the three couples. Claire Tuft and Ryan Wells play the supporting characters. It’s a bit of a directors’ show case as each of the three acts has a different director.
Dale McFadden directed the first act as Karen Nash, a slightly ditzy wife in her late late-forties, tries to restage her wedding night of twenty-some years ago only to discover that Sam, her husband, is having an affair with his ultra efficient secretary, Claire Tuft. It’s a sad bit of nicely built pathos that culminates with the wife in exasperation finally breaking out with "Everyone cheats with their secretary. I expected more from my husband."
The second act of "Plaza Suite" directed by Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe is lighter fare. This time Rob Johansen is, Jesse, the returning Hollywood producer linking up with Muriel his star struck old high school girl friend. He’s single with three divorces. Jennifer Johansen’s Muriel is married with three kids. He’s looking for purity; she’s looking for a bit of a walk on the wild side. It takes Jessie awhile to figure out that the purity angle isn’t getting him anywhere and that the Hollywood name dropping is. The flow was good, but some how this production doesn’t quite build to that central gag
The funniest of the three acts of "Plaza Suite" is definitely the third, directed by Jonathan Michaelsen, with the Rob and Jennifer as the parents of Mimsey Hubley, a twenty-one year old who is all set to be married, but has locked herself in the bathroom. The parents fret, threaten and cajole. In frustration, the father tries unsuccessfully to break down the door and even to crawl out on a seventh story ledge for a try at entering the bathroom through the window. It’s left up to Ryan Wells, as her husband-to-be to offer "Plaza Suite’s only connection to the sixties with a neat delivery of the line, "Mimsey, cool it." "Plaza Suite" is set in the late sixties, but that decade and the changes going on are well outside Simon’s vision. It might well be 1958 instead of 1968.
The show has a nice looking set by Seamus Bourne, costumes that looked good on everyone by Amanda Bailey and a sound design of Frank Sinatra hits cleverly arranged by Andrew Hopson to nicely framed the three acts.
Neil Simon’s "Plaza Suite" plays Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons at the Brown County Playhouse through October 20th
You can find an interview with Rob and Jennifer Johansen on our Arts Interviews page .