Edge

Neil Simon cooks with humor and reality

In The Dinner Party, Neil Simon places people who would rather not come anywhere near each other in the same restaurant with others in the same predicament. It is a recipe for disaster – or not, if one has Simon’s light touch of wit and humor and gift for tackling a thorny issue like divorce.

Albert Donay, a rental car dealer who considers himself at heart a born painter, has had two divorces. That is fairly common, but it ceases to be standard fare when one learns that both divorces involved the same woman. The first time was better than the second, or else they wouldn’t have tried again, goes one line in the play.

Claude Pichon, a rare book dealer, married a woman who got half of all he had after their divorce. At one point he wishes he had divorced Albert as that would have been cheaper. The two are the first to arrive at a party they think was arranged by their divorce lawyer. Slowly the plot thickens and makes Simon’s concoction savory. As the other guests arrive they realize they have a lot to talk about.

The Dinner Party is a play with particular ingredients that could only have come from the boiling pot of hearty humor from Neil Simon’s kitchen. The playwright situates the action in Paris at a fancy restaurant. The characters are French. It would seem that he wants to pay homage to MoliEre, the inventor of bourgeois comedy, but in truth his attempt at sophistication lacks pretentiousness.

This is evident when one of the characters speaks of French authors like Camus and Sartre as if reading from a very American grocery list. It is a play with hints of MoliEre but wholly in the style that made Neil Simon famous. It is not a subtle play, nor is it surprising. However, it captures the bittersweetness of a broken vow.

It rings true because Neil Simon, after five marriages, knows what he is talking about. People say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Simon apparently thrives in this kitchen.

It is a traditional play with Neil Simon’s trademark witty lines and comic characters that are exaggerated in their goofiness, echoing Charlie Chaplin and Jerry Lewis. What is not so traditional about the play is the absence of an intermission.

The action flows without interruption, in a real-time fashion where groups of characters with particular issues exchange their repartees or sardonic remarks, then leave the stage for another group to come and do their thing. It is well-timed, allowing for the plot to unravel gracefully, without jaggedness and with plenty of laughter.

November 13, 2001

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It could be a fruitful year for the Miami Hurricanes in the 2019 NFL Draft. NFL Draft analyst Mel Ki ...

A quick six-pack off UM coach Manny Diaz’s conversation with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM’ ...

UM was very fortunate that junior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud a ...

Hard Rock Stadium will be filled with Miami fans — and probably only Miami fans — when the two colle ...

They made school history on Sunday with a nationally-televised road upset of No. 2 Louisville, and o ...

UM public health experts try to help tackle Venezuela’s ongoing health care crisis. ...

The Ring Theatre’s contemporary reworking of Molière’s “The Misanthrope” showcases the skills of UM’ ...

Miami Law’s Frances Hill answers key questions about the National Emergencies Act. ...

Researcher Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer is leading a study aimed at increasing the number of kids who ar ...

UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a ...

The Hurricanes will wrap up a four-game homestand with a midweek game against FAU on Wednesday at 6 ...

The No. 14 Miami women's basketball team is set to cap its longest road stretch of the season T ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami golf team closed out the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegi ...

The University of Miami swimming & diving team begins its run at the 2019 ACC Swimming & Div ...

For the second week in a row, the Miami women's basketball team made the largest leap of any sc ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.