Plaza Suite review – Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick

Plaza Suite review – Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are spectacles in the celebrity circus – The Guardian

This transfer of Neil Simon's three-act play about couples in crisis is met with the famous appreciation of Broadway audiences, perhaps not surprising given that it stars New York royalty. At the sight of an empty set, the cheers begin. The decibels rise as Sarah Jessica Parker walks on. Matthew Broderick's entry causes even more excitement. A woman in my line of sight holds up a glowing phone after 15 minutes for her brazen souvenir. At a previous show, Parker asked an audience member to put their phone away in the middle of production. The ushers rush through the aisles, apparently hoping to prevent another such offense.

Not to mention the comedy on stage, this is a celebrity circus. Even costume changes elicit oohs and aahs from the audience. It seems strangely out of proportion, because as exciting as it may be to see Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw on stage, the production is flat and memorable and doesn't test the experienced skills of either actor (even though this is Parker's debut in the West End). .

Ice but no fire… Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in the Plaza Suite. Photo: Marc Brenner

That's a shame, because there's something exciting about the premise: Parker and Broderick, who are married, play three different 1960s couples living in marital disharmony, each dramatizing their unlived desires and disappointments in the same swanky seventh-floor hotel suite . What truth and tension can they bring to Simon's romantic comedy gone wrong?

Not much. Directed by John Benjamin Hickey, it feels strange, as if Parker and Broderick are saying lines rather than taking on roles. The first, most sober act shows a couple, married for over 20 years, on their wedding day. She's annoyingly dazed, he's pompous and annoyed. Parker invests more energy, but Broderick is strangely calm. When an affair is discovered, there is some ice, but no fire. The tone remains that of a breezy moral comedy in which no real pain is evident, however brief.

Carrie Bradshaw would never… Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite. Photo: Marc Brenner

The second act fares worse. A couple meets after 17 years: she stays in Brooklyn while he becomes a hot Hollywood producer. Broderick looks like Austin Powers, complete with black-rimmed glasses, and slithers across the floor like a cartoon, while Parker wears a garish psychedelic dress and plays her lines for understated laughs (Carrie Bradshaw). may well have rebelled against the hideous clothes Parker wears across the board.

The final scenario is about a couple whose daughter has barricaded herself in the bathroom on her wedding day and is desperate to get her to the altar. Parker wears a wedding dress and a hat unoriginally reminiscent of Lee Grant's in the 1971 film starring Walter Matthau alongside three different female leads. This adaptation looks cheesy and contemporary, but its performances are more nuanced than here.

It could be that the play is showing its age (and this production makes little effort to give it a new twist) or that it doesn't fare well with such blunt, vaudevillian treatment. The third act is more overtly clownish but works better, while Broderick's physical comedy is more energetic, vaguely reminiscent of Spencer Tracy's in Father of the Bride, but overall doesn't do enough to redeem itself.

The production seems to be effectively capitalizing on the fame of its two stars. What a low, lazy bar for such a high price (some premium “package” seats were reportedly selling for £395). Times are tough for the arts, but commercial theater can certainly be braver.

Until April 13th at the Savoy Theatre, London.