Neil Simon’s comedy Hotel Suites, presented as this year’s Fall Play by the Sayville Players, offers a collection of vignettes about Americans on vacations in such cities as London, Chicago, and New York. In these plays, all the “action” takes place in the hotel suites. Yet, the real human comedy of Simon’s plays resides below the surface of each ludicrous situation contained by those “four” walls. Within the subtext of the comic dialog simmers poignant moments or revelations in the lives of ordinary people.
Finding the right balance between comedy and pathos, may seem a challenge for High School actors, but not so for the Sayville Players. With energy and enthusiasm that grew with each performance, the Players convincingly shaped and developed their characters that not only succeeded in entertaining, but made audiences laugh.
- In the Man on the Floor, Mark (Daniel Lumley and Sean Velazquez ) stresses over his lost Wimbledon tickets, throws his back out, and through a chain reaction of slapstick mishaps, nearly everybody lands on the floor: the hotel doctor (Sean McNally), Bertram (Jake Vail) the hotel porter, and even Marks’ wife, Anne (Jessica Leigh-Manuell), has to lie down with a headache, much to the surprise of the Savoy Hotel Manager Mrs. Sitgood (Gabby Giovan and Emily Nowlan).
- Although long-time friends are Visitors from Chicago on their joint vacation in the Hilton of Beverly Hills, Mort (Tim Costorf) and Beth (Meghan Marshall), Stu (Matt Spina) and Gert (Rowan Mahoney) exchange sputtering frustrations, even fisticuffs, over long-repressed pet peeves. Only in a Neil Simon comedy, so well embodied by the Sayille players, would a turned ankle in a tennis match result in hilarious bickering of couples at odds with each other.
- Going Home is a more restrained Simon comedy in which the sincere dialog between widowed Sharon (Kaitlin McNamara) and her daughter Lauren (Victoria Ferremi, Susan Mangaluz) is filled with humorous imagery. Upon Lauren’s urging, Sharon accepts a date with an elderly English nobleman. In their London Suite at the Savoy, Sharon weaves an amusing tale of disastrous woe about her date, which brings mother and daughter closer.
- Is the wedding on or off? That is the burning question that powers the high jinx in Visitors from Forest Hills. When Mimsy (Jessica Leigh-Manuell, Gabby Giovan, Susan Mangaluz)—the bride to be—inexplicably locks herself in the bathroom in their Plaza suite, Norma (Kimberly Miller) and her husband Roy (Matt Spina) banter hysterical blame, fearing potential shame of disappointed wedding guests. The parent’s frantic scrambling, which includes Roy climbing out on the window ledge to extricate Mimsy from the bathroom, set a poor example of marriage: the key to their daughter’s wedding jitters. Thanks to the groom Borden (Jake Vail) who proves “cool” about everything, Mimsy emerges from the bathroom as a willing bride. All’s well that ends well.
Prior to each night’s performance, Director Steve Hailey offered context for the Fall production, with some emphasis on the unprecedented effects of the Superstorm. “Sandy has been a hardship on everybody, but it affected our plays as well—this should have been performed a week ago.” Drastically truncated tech and dress rehearsals, election-day interference, and afterschool cancellations caused by the Nor’easter contributed to a comedy of errors. “So if you should see things that are a little incomplete, blame it on Sandy!”
Despite thed irector’s caveat, the show went on with handsomely designed and well-lit hotel suites (thanks to the production staff and crews) and the Players found their stride with each passing night. Bravo to all!