The Guthrie Theater's production of The Sunshine Boys opened on July 13th to hearty guffaws and a standing ovation. Written by Neil Simon, the 1972 Broadway show attained notoriety as it was adapted to film and television. The play outlines the conflict of elderly Vaudeville comedy duo Lewis (played by Raye Birk) and Clark (Peter Michael Goetz). The two have been separated for eleven years until Clark's nephew/manager (Robert O. Berdahl) convinces them to perform one last shtick for a CBS special.
The Sunshine Boys is all about comedy. The show itself is heavy on puns, quips and general vaudevillian messing-about. Additionally, the plot deals with the comedy team's desire to deliver the perfect punch line despite their graying ear hairs. Their competitive antics drive them to absurd conflicts, eventually leading an ill Clark to proclaim, "I'm gonna sit in my chair and look healthier than he does!"
With a small cast, this production boasts actors with impressive and varied backgrounds. The stodgy-old-man angle delivers lots of laughs and the plot keeps the audience guessing until the end. I will admit, sometimes I wasn't quite as keen on the jokes as the rest of the audience; however, the comedy definitely held my attention and left me satisfied.
This show is a good time, even if the premise does wear a little thin by the end. Serious themes in the play become the setup for extended jokes, making the pace quick and the tone light-hearted. For vaudeville enthusiasts, fans of physical comedy and fun-seekers, this show will be a great end to an evening out.
Overall, the forecast for The Sunshine Boys is clear and breezy. Audiences can expects sunny laughter, clear plotlines and gusts of slapstick. With a chance of a light drizzle (if you're not into hardy-har-type comedy) this show is daffy and fun.
The Sunshine Boys runs through September 2, 2012.