- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell, Contributing Writer
Even Neil Simon, the star of Broadway, can’t always write hits
Remember him for The Odd Couple or Brighton Beach Memoir, not for Proposals, a pleasant but very light weight play that was on Broadway, for a meager 41 performances. The play was revived at the Norris Theatre this February apparently because it was by Simon and that could guarantee an audience.
Proposals is a memory play, the memory of Clemma Diggins, the charming and perhaps too attractive Lisa Renee Pitts, who tells this story from somewhere in the afterlife. It’s a story about the last summer at a mountain retreat in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and revolves around the Hines family: Burt (Barry Pearl,) his teenage daughter Josie (Andrea Paquin) and more than a few friends, old lovers and assorted characters who come to the house and are, to some extent, amusing.
But this isn’t the Neil Simon everyone knows. The jokes are slightly more amusing than laugh-provoking, the characters, with one exception, stick figures. Only Vinnie Bavassi (Jason Paul Evans) is in the old Neil Simon tradition. He is from Miami and uses wit and his ambition to create a jewel for the Pope.
Proposals is Simon’s 30th work, far from his best, a workman-like play that would probably never have been seen again if his name wasn’t attached to it.
It was lightly entertaining for a Sunday afternoon audience. It was well-mounted and directed by Todd Neilsen with as much flair as it could have, but really, couldn’t we see Splendor in the Grass or any one of the half-a-dozen other great Simon works instead?