Plaza Suite – REVIEW

Plaza Suite – REVIEW
Image: Joseph Restubog as Jesse and Laura Wallace as Muriel in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.

Neil Simon’s 1968 triple-bill comedy, Plaza Suite, was a huge success in its first few seasons, and starred some of the biggest names in the industry in the various productions across the US. It was first adapted into a film in 1971, with successive remakes in 1982 and 1987 (for TV). 

In 2022, the stage version had its first revival in more than 50 years, with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker playing multiple lead roles on Broadway. In January this year, the production was taken to London’s West End where its season has been extended to April. 

By comparison, the Genesian Theatre’s current mounting of Plaza Suite may be more humble, but it is definitely no less earnest and enjoyable. 

Barry Nielsen as Sam and Elizabeth McGregor as Karen in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.


Romy Silver as Jean McCormack in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.

The play unfolds in three separate acts, each depicting a different couple at a different point in time, all set in Suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel, New York City.

Simon’s intention, and most productions, have the same actors play each of the couples in each storyline. Given how diverse the characters are in each case, this might not always work well.

The Genesian company has opted to cast different lead actors in each storyline, and this is probably a wise choice.

The first act/story is set in the late 1950s with a middle-aged couple hitting a bump as they reach their 23rd year of marriage. Karen Nash (Elizabeth MacGregor) has booked Suite 719 in the Plaza Hotel because, by her recollection, it’s where she and her husband, Sam (Barry Neilsen) spent their wedding night. We meet Karen first, preening and fussing about the room, ordering champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and clearly excited about the evening.

Andrea Blight as Norma in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.

When Sam arrives, flustered, dismissive, engrossed with work, we suspect there’s trouble in paradise. The arrival of his secretary, Jean McCormack (Romy Silver) doesn’t help things. 

Act 2 takes place sometime in the mid-sixties. Jesse Kiplinger (Joseph Restubog) is a very successful Hollywood producer, who rubs shoulders with all the biggest stars, and has a reputation as a philanderer.  He is in the suite awaiting a friend, a woman he dated many years ago, before he became famous. The woman, Muriel Tate (Laura Wallace) arrives in glossy white boots and prim white glove. 

Andrew Badger as Borden, the groom in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.

Muriel is clearly star-struck and eager to know about all the celebrities Jesse has met. Jesse, on the other hand, appears more eager to add Muriel to his list of conquests — despite the fact that she is a wife and mother. 

In the final act, possibly “present day”, that is,1968 when the play was written, a couple is dealing with the wedding day nerves of their daughter, who has locked herself in the bathroom of Suite 719. Meanwhile, father of the bride, Roy (Peter Gizariotis) has over 60 guests, a band of musicians, and catering staff all waiting in the hotel event room, with the clock and the cash register ticking over. 

Peter Gizariotis as Roy in PLAZA SUITE by Genesian Theatre Co. Photo: LSH Media.

The bride’s mother, Norma, Andrea Blight, is concerned about saving face with the guests, while roller-coasting through hysteria and motherly patience. Andrew Badger makes a brief appearance here as the unperturbed groom, but he has also appeared in previous acts as the bellhop. Romy Silver has also appeared as a maid in previous acts, and makes a final show as the bride. 

The acting is very good, as is the set design and costumes. There is a lot of humour and quick repartee, proving Simon’s mastery of dialogue. Some of the elements have dated, and each act is about 10 minutes longer than it needs to be, but it is still overall entertaining and fun. 

Until March 2

Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent St, Sydney

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