Neil Simon is the master of comedy and the most successful playwright of our time. In California Suite four separate stories are played out in suite 203 and 204. In the first scene barbed one liners fly as a divorced couple (he’s a relaxed Californian; she’s an uptight New Yorker) meet to discuss custody of their teenaged daughter. In the second scene, Marvin wakes up to find a hooker in his bed and his wife is on her way up to the room. Hilarity ensues as Marvin tries to remember the night before and win back his wife while trying to get the hooker out of his bed. The third scene focuses on Diana and Sidney a couple from London. She has been nominated for an Academy Award. The beginning of the scene has the two getting ready for the awards and the end of the scene shows what happens after the Academy Awards. In the final vignette, two couples, best friends, have been vacationing for three weeks and now everyone is at each other’s throat. This madcap farcical scene even has its own Good Theater surprise ending.
Lots of Laughs in 'California Suite'
- by Steve Feeney
"…Good Theater's current production of the play, directed by Brian P. Allen and Lee K. Paige, delivers the little insights into human nature and, more importantly, the laughs that make for a highly entertaining night at the theater.
Much of the success of the production, as reviewed on opening night, rests in the performance of Denise Poirier, who appears in three of the four vignettes that make up the play. In her first appearance with the company, the actress, who has a lengthy resume including roles on "Seinfeld," "Frasier" and "Murphy Brown," reveals impressive versatility in three quite different roles.
The best segment, called "Visitors from London," casts Poirier as a British actress who's been nominated for an Oscar. Poirier gives compelling life to the witty dialogue, with its undercurrent of insecurity on the brink of despair.
Alternately caustic and lovey-dovey, she and her bisexual husband, played with a certain aristocratic charm by Allen, reveal the contours of their marital arrangement, and how it uniquely succeeds, despite its limitations. This segment really has all the right Simon ingredients in balance and it's a delight to see unfold.
…"Visitors from Chicago," a farcical piece in which minor injuries mount as two vacationing couples get on each other's nerves...had the audience roaring.
Each element contributes to making this a fun season finale from the Good Theater.
Directed by Brian P. Allen and Lee K. Paige
The Visitor from New York
Hannah – Denise Poirier
Billy – Paul Drinan
The Visitors from Philadelphia
Marvin – William Sandstead
Millie – Cathy Counts
Bunny – Hilary G. Benn
The Visitors from London
Diana – Denise Poirier
Sidney – Brian P. Allen
The Visitors from Chicago
Mort – Paul Drinan
Beth – Hilary G. Benn
Stage Manager – Karen Dunton
Set Design – Janet Montgomery
Lighting Design – Jamie Grant
Costumes – Joan McMahon
Technical Director – Stephen Underwood
Assistant Technical Director – Craig Robinson
Photography - Ian MacInnes & Stephen Underwood
* Member Actors' Equity Association