Dreyfuss and Mason perform the piece with ruthless charm and efficiency. What with all the flapping, palms-up gesticulation they use to embellish Simon's relentless wise cracks, a visitor from outer space might deduce that they were a primitive form of bird, making the first cack-handed efforts at flight. Given that Simon's comedies have a superannuated feel in their original state, it's not surprising they have generated a big revival industry centring on names of yesteryear. It can be only time before they exhume George Burns for a retread tour of The Sunshine Boys.
Dreyfuss plays Mel, a corporate man who suffers a nervous breakdown when he is fired. Well, I say "nervous breakdown": It would be more accurate to say "pretext for an unending string of dyspeptic one-liners about the aggravations of New York life" .
If you compare Mel with a character like the depressed, childless wife in Terry Johnson's Dead Funny, you will get the measure of the difference between a person whose lacerating humour really does demonstrate that she is at the end of her tether and a cipher who is undergoing a nice, safe, audience-friendly breakdown. Even at his most purportedly desperate, Mel comes out with rib-ticklers such as: "I go to the zoo, the monkeys nudge each other and say, he's here again".
When Mel comments on the fact that he keeps mislaying himself, "I don't need therapists, I need Lost and Found", you're inclined to cry out: "Baby, what you really need is a better dramatist."
These characters are not the prisoners of Second Avenue or New York or the human condition: they are the captives of Neil Simon's complacently limited talent.Reuse content