|The Concord Journal||
Thurs, February 28, 1991
|'Broadway Bound' full of revelations|
There is one moment in the second act of this autobiographical comedy by Neil Simon when Kate, the mother of the family, explains to her second son Eugene how she danced the fox trot with her girlhood idol. If all plays aim for one moment of revelation, this is it for Broadway Bound. Kate reaches back into her memory; mother and son dance; for a moment we understand how the son would become the last of Broadway's red hot playwrights.
The moment is doubly blessed in the Concord Players' winter production.
The production's two best actors, Gay Swirsky as Kate and Terence Coe as Eugene, hold the stage. Coe presents his teenage Eugene with a combination of thoughtful innocence and knowing charm. Simon's dazzling future seems to hover in the promise of Coe's winning smile.
Swirsky, herself from Brooklyn, is the real thing. Her inflections of voice, gesture and carriage ring with inborn authenticity.
When she is on, the conventions of the staged play disappear; we seem to be watching someone's life. These moments are rare and wonderful, and as good as theatre gets.
Doug Sanders presents an exuberant portrayal of Stan, Kate's eldest son. His drive, confidence and audacity pave the road from Brighton Beach to Broadway, and pay for the taxi ride as well for the two comic-minded brothers.
Waldo Fielding, as Kate's elderly father, Ben, gives the evening's most complex portrait. By turns absent-minded, sarcastic and bitter, Ben is the family's unintentional comedian in tragic guise. His out-dated socialism shows most clearly how Simon flavors the fixations of his characters with both sympathy and humor.
Sanders, Jacobs, Mitchell, Fielding, Swirsky, Coe
Carol Mitchell as Kate's wealthy sister, Blanche, and Mike Jacobs as Kate's estranged husband, Jack, both give servicable performances.
Patricia Butcher directs with energy and clarity. At times some actors appear to wander up and down without intention, but they quickly recollect themselves and the action moves forward again, briskly.
And, once again, the Concord Players have constructed another nearly authentic set. The details of wood paneling and period furniture conjure up the starved, post-World War II, off-season resort atmosphere of Long Island towns like Brighton Beach.
Broadway Bound has great one-liners. It is, after all, a Neil Simon comedy.
Simon lamented in a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine that he would never win a Pulitzer Prize. He is probably right. But this play at least has its moments.
How many of us would reveal to millions of strangers that as teenagers we once danced with our middle-aged mothers?