The Sunshine Boys

Neil Simon

The Sunshine Boys

Kings of comedy, Willie Clark and Al Lewis aka The Sunshine Boys haven’t spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a television special, past grudges resurface as they take centre stage once more. Ageing ailments aside, can this legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show? 3.2 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
The Sunshine Boys

Omniscore:

Location London
Venue Savoy Theatre
Director Thea Sharrock
Cast Richard Griffiths, Adam Levy, Nick Blakeley Danny DeVito
From April 2012
Until July 2012
Box Office 0844 871 7361
 

Kings of comedy, Willie Clark and Al Lewis aka The Sunshine Boys haven’t spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a television special, past grudges resurface as they take centre stage once more. Ageing ailments aside, can this legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show?

Reviews

The Guardian

Michael Billington

Simon is often thought of as a gag writer, but what makes him so funny is that his jokes spring from character ... But, while Simon gets an extraordinary number of laughs out of the confrontation of the bickering comics, he also makes it clear old age is no joke. Willie and Al may be vaudeville characters; but, in their arguments and their mix of dependence and open hostility, they resemble many old couples fighting off the fear of mortality.

18/05/2012

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The Daily Mail

Quentin Letts

The second half is far more fun, the ageing comedians finally enacting their sketch about a man visiting a sex-mad doctor. Only at this point do Mr DeVito’s sardonic gifts receive the pace they require. At one point, Mr Griffiths is kitted out in a comical green-checked suit and a ludicrous wig. Mind you, it was almost more convincing than his American accent. Al may be meant to be dreamy, but Mr Griffiths at times seems less than gripped by his own performance.

22/05/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Charles Spencer

Sentimentality is largely kept at bay here, even when DeVito’s character suffers a heart attack, while the re-creation of their most famous routine for the TV show, in which DeVito plays a randy doctor twitching with lust for his pneumatic nurse and Griffiths a befuddled tax inspector in a terrible wig, is alone worth the price of admission. The sight of DeVito’s panting, goggle-eyed attempts to get a better look up his nurse’s skirt is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

18/05/2012

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The Stage

Mark Shenton

The Sunshine Boys may be little more than an old-fashioned star vehicle, but with the sweet Little-and-Large casting of Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths this 40-year Neil Simon comedy is exceptionally well driven and wears its vintage, and that of its stars, very lightly. Instead of stunt casting, it’s a pleasure to watch two veteran actors who clearly have enormous affection for each other, playing two former vaudeville partners who no longer share the same kind of fondness.

18/05/2012

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The Observer

Susannah Clapp

What a waste, [though,] to have these actors in such a tired drama. The first half limps, desperately over-extended; the second (which is enlivened by a crisp and snapping appearance by Johnnie Fiori) has more bite, but its real high points are triumphs of acting over content. You have to be very keen on a nostalgic notion of vaudeville to find the rehearsal of big-boob jokes truly hilarious, and very devoted to the idea that the primary relationship in life is that of a buddy to find The Sunshine Boys other than thin.

20/05/2012

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The Evening Standard

Henry Hitchings

The writing abounds with gags, exulting in several different kinds of crankiness, but it’s repetitive and seems like a single interesting sketch extended for two and a half hours. Thea Sharrock’s production is funny and affectionate, but needs more snap. It doesn’t help that Simon’s characters appear miserable when they’re apart and every bit as wretched when together. Amid moments of sentimentality and nostalgia, the mood is oddly glum. And although the jokes come thick and fast, a lot of them are predictable or insipid.

18/05/2012

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The Financial Times

Sarah Hemming

Behind the gag-fest is a poignant depiction of loneliness: the pain that the wisecracks are there both to deliver and hold at bay. The problem, though, is the jokes themselves. Many of them feel dated and tired and you can see them approaching a mile off. Maybe that is the point, but it leads to rather forced laughter and an odd, bumpy pace to the action.

21/05/2012

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The Independent

Paul Taylor

Griffiths's ... does not appear until 30 minutes in. The irony is, the best examples of zippy double-act occur when he is not on stage. The excellent Adam Levy brings pep and personality to Ben's frustration and the cross-talk has just the right buoyant snappiness. Admittedly, there are laugh-out-loud moments when we watch Al and Willie perform their legendary doctor sketch. But it's easier to view Griffiths and DeVito as actors who have enjoyed each other's company during few weeks of rehearsal.

18/05/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Kate Bassett

The star vehicle moves at a snail's pace. Even if both its veteran stars are supposedly in danger of busting a gasket ... I was nearly bored to death en route.

20/05/2012

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