Broadway Bound is a semi-autobiographical play by the late great American Jewish playwright Neil Simon. It is the last chapter in his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues.
I am very partial to this kind of autobiographical play because of its structure. By this I mean that the play had a main character narrator who gives us a greater insight into the characters which I find particularly satisfying. It is a complex thing to do but Simon carries it out triumphantly. It creates a feeling of intimacy that draws you irresistibly closer to the play’s heartbeat.
The play works by way of a narrator who is Eugene, the Neil Simon character. He shares us with us the dramatic goings on within his family. The play starts with the time that Eugene and his brother Stanley are starting to make inroads in their writing careers, writing skits for CBS radio.
There are so many good moments. The interactions between mother and son especially the closing scenes…the moment when Kate polishes her beloved dining room table which the play ends on…
The interplay between the two brothers as they work on their comedy script to submit to CBS radio effectively conveys to the audience their rising level of excitement which is quite infectious.
The play was well directed by Rosane McNamara. Her love of the play shone through, infusing her enthusiasm into the lively performances of the actors.
The consistency and quality of the New York accents enunciated by the actors gave this play an authenticity which transported one to a working class suburb in New York in the late 40’s after his left the Army(Biloxi Blues was set in his army days).
Patrick Holman gave a well judged, very engaging performance in the main role of Eugene (the Neil Simon character).
Simon Lee gave a really energy charged performance as Eugene’s enterprising brother, Stanley.
Suzann James was very convincing as Kate, a typical conservative, over protective jewish mother.
Brett Heath gave a very sound performance as the boys father, Jack Jerome. Jack’s marriage to Kate is on the rocks and the boys can sense trouble ahead. Heath also played the role of a radio host.
Les Asmussen plays the boys warm hearted, socialist grandfather, Ben Epstein who plays a big part in their lives.
Susan Jordan plays Ben’s sister, Blanche, who tries to convince Ben to join his wife in the sunshine of Florida. Blanche has married into wealth and is in a position to help her brother out. Susan also plays the role of mrs Pitkin and a radio host.
Nick Curnow and Jesse Shore played voice parts (from the CBS radio program coming out of a vintage old radio) and weren’t seen on stage.
A lovely set was designed by Allan Walpole featuring a family living room where most of the action takes place and then behind the family room are the boys two bedrooms. Further back is a little hallway leading to the bedrooms of the mother and grandfather.
If you want a rewarding night’s entertainment make sure that you are Newtown bound. BROADWAY BOUND is playing the New Theatre 542 King Street, Newtown until 15 December 2018.