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Previewed 27 April 2012, Opened 17 May 2012, Closed on 28 July 2012 at the Savoy Theatre in London
A major revival of Neil Simon's classic comedy The Sunshine Boys in London starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths and directed by Thea Sharrock.
'Kings of Comedy', Willie Clark and Al Lewis AKA 'The Sunshine Boys' haven't spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a television special, past grudges resurface as they take centre stage once more. Ageing ailments aside can this legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show?... Old rivalry and vintage hilarity abound in this classic comedy of showbiz and friendship by Neil Simon.
This production of The Sunshine Boys in London stars Danny DeVito as 'Willie Clark' and Richard Griffiths as 'Al Lewis' along with Rebecca Blackstone, Nick Blakeley, Peter Cadden, Johnnie Fiori, Adam Levy and William Maxwell. The production is directed by Thea Sharrock with designs by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Neil Austin, music by Adrian Johnston and sound by Ian Dickinson. Richard Griffiths' recent London theatre credits include Peter Shaffer's play Equus (Gielgud Theatre 2007) and Gerald Sibleyras' comedy Heroes starring Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott (Wyndham's Theatre 2005). Neil Simon's West End credits include The Odd Couple, The Goodbye Girl, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and They're Playing Our Song at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1980.
Neil Simon's classic comedy The Sunshine Boys was originally staged on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in December 1972, going on to run for 16 months. In London the production, starring Jimmy Jewel and Alfred Marks, run for just 10 weeks at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1975. The film version, starring Walter Matthau as 'Willie Clark' and George Burns as 'Al Lewis' was released in 1975, winning an Oscar for 'Best Actor in A Supporting Role for George Burns.
"It's hard to imagine a gentler, more congenial way to while away time in the theatre than watching The Sunshine Boys, Neil Simon's homage to the golden days of vaudeville. It does his cause no harm to have two actors - Richard Griffiths and Danny DeVito - in the lead roles who could wring comedy out of reading the telephone directory. Put them together with the dry Bronx wit and cool pacing of Simon's script and you have something equating to theatrical gold dust... DeVito hasn't acted on stage since 1972. In Thea Sharrock's effortless production, it doesn't show. From the moment the curtain opens on him half-asleep in front of his ancient television he dominates the theatre - undemonstratively, shambolically, as if doodling around his home in his own sweet time. I'm not so convinced by Griffiths's Noo Yoik accent, but who cares when he brings such layers of stubbornness and pathos to the bloody-minded relationship, which is like the most complex of marriages?" The Sunday Telegraph
"Exciting as it is to see these two on stage together as Al Lewis and Willie Clark, who stopped talking 11 years before, they never for one second look like the kings of comedy The Sunshine Boys were said to have been. 'Nobody could time a joke the way he could time a joke,' explains Willie to his nephew and agent, Ben, who is trying to persuade him to agree to a get-together with Lewis for a television special. 'Nobody could say a line the way he said it. One person, that's what we were.' Only once do we believe that, in a perfectly choreographed scene when the two are arranging and then rearranging the other's rearrangements of the furniture in Willie's hotel-apartment, to rehearse their famous 'doctor sketch'. Otherwise, in Thea Sharrock's sluggish production, they remain remote and out of sync. There's little pace in their patter - it's as if they are trying to tap-dance in hobnailed boots. The fault is partly with the play itself, which feels dated and takes too long to get going." The Mail on Sunday
The Sunshine Boys in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 27 April 2012, opened on 17 May 2012 and closed on 28 July 2012.