|Booking From:||Wednesday, 30th June 2010|
|Booking Until:||Saturday, 25th September 2010|
|Matinees:||Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm|
|Evenings:||Monday to Saturday 7.30pm|
Having seen multi award-winning Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum’s blistering performance on the Old Vic stage two years ago with Kevin Spacey in David Mamet’s ruthlessly funny Speed the Plough, I was really looking forward seeing him on stage again. The Old Vic have swapped Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey for Academy Award winner Mercedes Ruehl in this American comedy about a middle aged man who is at breaking point after losing his job in advertising after 27 years of service.
Goldblum is terrific as Mel, a middle aged man who lives in New York City with his loyal and devoted wife Edna (Ruehl). Life is tough in the big city with noisy neighbours, thieves, bad air conditioning and his job in jeopardy, Mel can’t cope anymore.
Award winning playwright and director Terry Johnson (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Rain Man, La Cage aux Folles) has put together a slick production with great performances from his leading man and lady respectively. Rob Howell’s design captures the claustrophobic feel of a big city apartment with the world outside feeling vivid and real. If the play has a fault it is that it feels dated. The observations made by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Neil Simon (Sweet Charity, The Odd Couple) may have been far more cutting edge and risque in 1975 when the play was first performed. It still amuses and there is enough here to ensure an evenings entertainment, however time does seem to have dulled the cutting edge of the plays humor.
Overall, this is worth going to see as a pleasurable night at the theatre. It won’t challenge but it will entertain and I hope we see both Goldblum and Ruehl back in the West End soon.
Play - Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon at the Vaudeville Theatre, 404 The Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue was a play I chose to see because it is the first time Kevin Spacey (aka Mr. Old Vic) has produced a play and brought it to The West End. (Love innovation of all kinds). He has brought an Oscar winning actress and an Oscar nominated film star in the title roles of Edna and Mel Edison. As it only runs for just 6 weeks or so I took advantage. Considering my last visit to a theatre was in 1984 I am so pleased with myself that I went.
Mercedes Ruehl is amazing. She shows perfect timing, wonderful feelings and sheer professionalism. The man whose mobile phone went off for an eon did not phase her one bit. Sadly, many audience members were upset by this man’s selfish behaviour and he never returned and no one asked what happened to him and I hope his disappearance involved a good kicking.
I looked Mercedes up on Google and now hate her to bits. She is 62 years old, according to Wikipedia, and looks 40 (maybe 41). The cow!
Jeff Goldblum, aka Mel Edison, was pretty cool. This actor has only frightened me in the past (The Fly is the only film of his I have seen and not all the way through because it is too scary) and it is a nice feeling to have this person make me have real laughs and not those polite titters people make when they are wary. I particularly enjoyed the end with the snow shovel and his facial expressions as well as his shouting fits and rantings at the neighbours on the phone with Mercedes bouncing off him. It was good fun to watch.
This is a great play. Black Comedy is a somewhat a misnomer – it is very funny and I am glad I invested my time, effort and money in going to watch it. Try and get a seat in the stalls – they are more expensive, but you get the best view and the theatre is beautiful and intimate.
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