We’ve not had much sunshine in the UK this year, the odd glimpse here and there but ever since the water companies announced a water shortage in April we’ve had non-stop rain. The West End however has a radiant beam of sunshine shining forth at the moment in Neil Simon’s charming comedy The Sunshine Boys.
Theatre is many things to many people. After a manic week at work for both my wife and I we settled into our chairs at The Savoy Theatre hoping for a pleasant, fun and entertaining evening. The Sunshine Boys was the perfect antidote to a hectic work week. I’d firstly like to say how impressed I was by the front of house staff at The Savoy Theatre, certainly the most helpful and polite of any West End Theatre I’ve been too.
The play is about two vaudeville performers that have fallen out 11 years earlier and are asked to reunite for a TV special. The physical comedy and gags provide many a laugh and the play has a touching melancholy about fame, entertainment and old age.
Thea Sharrock’s directing allows the humour to shine through and for the masterful acting of Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths to glisten. I attended a masterclass with her earlier this month, and there she talked of the need for actors to trust the author, clearly DeVito and Griffiths trust Neil Simon, watching them was truly mesmerizing. They communicate so much just with a look or a reaction. Although the play is titled about the two “boys” it really is all about Danny DeVito’s character Willie Clark. He’s on stage for the entire play and it really is his play. Watching him was an object lesson in comic acting, but more than that it was simply a joy to watch him perform.
Neil Simon’s script from 1972 is of a slightly slower pace than some modern plays and comedies but I thought it never dragged, some of the jokes might be a bit hackneyed but I think that’s in keeping with the characters. The audience and I laughed along throughout and the recreation of The Sunshine Boys classic doctors sketch that opens Act 2 was harmless fun with some very funny moments and took me back to a time of Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies.
At the end the entire audience (including me) gave Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths a standing ovation. I hardly ever give a standing ovation (in fact I’m not sure the last time I did give one, they happen so rarely!) so I hope that gives you some idea of how impressed I was by their performances. It really is worth going to see this, just to see Danny DeVito’s adroit performance.
A jubilant evening at the theatre, perfect Friday night entertainment and merriment.
STARS : * * * *