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

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Friday: ▪ UM coach Mark Richt hasn’t yet given any indication to the ...

There are few players across Florida whose recruitment has been harder to parse than Derick Hunter’s ...

While University of Miami fans are not exactly thrilled about their Hurricanes going against the Wis ...

There was a time John Dixon looked like he would have his choice of just about any college he wanted ...

Part 2 of a 3-part series Former Marlins president David Samson, now unshackled by any contractual r ...

Following national recognition for its French production of Cinderella, the Frost Opera Theater is d ...

Several UM art students are getting real-world exposure during a highly anticipated – and attended – ...

Over the past several years, more and more students are using UM Libraries as a study place, a meeti ...

A record number of gifts have been collected across UM campuses to benefit children and seniors in t ...

Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, who previously served as minister of the interior and mi ...

Following its longest break of the season thus far, the No. 25/23 Miami women's basketball team ...

After a six-day layoff, the No. 25/23 Miami women's basketball team will be back in action Sund ...

Miami head women's tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews announced Friday the signing of two players ...

University of Miami redshirt senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis III was recognized for his outsta ...

The University of Miami's redshirt senior setter Haley Templeton was named to the 2018 AVCA All ...

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.