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Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick star in a revival of Neil Simon’s 1968 play, Plaza Suite, portraying three sets of characters that pay a visit to one of New York City’s most iconic hotels. John Benjamin Hickey makes his Broadway directorial debut.
No Tea, No Shade:
If you’ve ever splurged on a five-star hotel, only to arrive and find a tray of stale confections on the coffee table with an inkjet-printed note that enthusiastically reads, “Enjoy your stay!”, then you’ll be woefully familiar with that sinking feeling of disappointment after sitting through the belabored revival of Plaza Suite.
While their first entrances (and second and third, as the three-act play wears on) draw an enthusiastic patter of applause, even Parker’s charisma and Broderick’s comedic timing can’t save Neil Simon’s painfully dated riff on relationships and happiness as seen through the eyes of three couples in varied circumstances.
In “Visitor From Mamaroneck,” Parker plays Karen Nash, a middle-aged housewife desperate to rekindle her marriage with her number-crunching husband, whose disinterest has taken a turn toward infidelity. Uncomfortable dialogue like “Everyone cheats with their secretary. I expected more from my husband!” makes the whole scene feel more cringe-worthy than nostalgic, with Hickey’s Chekhovian pace only adding to the seat-squirming.
Act II goes full Swingin’ 60s as Broderick embodies Jesse Kiplinger, a Hollywood heavyweight producer from Tenafly, New Jersey, who reunites with his high school girlfriend Muriel (Parker) for free-flowing vodka stingers. “I have nothing but respect and the warmest of feelings for you,” he proclaims as his hands grope their way up Muriel’s mod mini. Her romantic obsession and quick consumption of high-proof alcohol lead to the inevitable.
Finally, in Act III, Simon and this revival’s two stars give us what we’ve been craving: fast-paced, physical comedy and a poignant denouement. Parker and Broderick portray Norma and Roy Hubley, parents of the bride who’s locked herself in the bathroom in a fit of pre-alter jitters. Together in real life for more than 30 years, it’s the starry couple’s moment to shine. Unfortunately, by the time it arrives, it’s check-out time.
Let’s Have a Moment:
Plaza Suite’s funniest moment is a stage direction hijacked for hilarity. At one point in Act III, Broderick’s Roy opens the 7th-floor window and climbs across the ledge in a desperate attempt to extract his daughter from the bathroom. A crash of thunder and torrent of rain ensues as Roy frantically swipes away imaginary pigeons — the bane of any New Yorker’s existence.
Moments later, he appears, drenched, at the door to Suite 719, saying, “She locked the window too. I had to climb in through a strange bedroom. There may be a lawsuit.” Now that’s comedy.
The Last Word:
Parker and Broderick were initially scheduled to appear in Plaza Suite in 2020, but the pandemic had other plans. After the show’s return and first preview, Parker spoke during the curtain call, saying, “On behalf of my brilliant husband and the beautiful cast, on behalf of every person working in the theater in New York City — we thank you, and we love you.”
Their affection for each other and the Broadway community is evident. Unfortunately, this Plaza Suite needs housekeeping.
Plaza Suite plays at the Hudson Theatre through June 26, 2022.