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Prolific American playwright Neil Simon doesn’t always transfer well across the Atlantic, but with its wisecracking comedy tinged with recrimination and regret his 40 year old comedy proves a decent showcase for Danny DeVito’s debut on the West End stage.

He plays Willie Clark, one half of a once successful vaudeville double act. For 43 years he performed alongside his partner Al, but they haven’t spoken for over a decade, not since the latter announced his plans to retire to New Jersey.

Now living alone in a shabby New York hotel apartment, forgetful, grumpy and still nursing a grudge, Al relies on the weekly visits of his nephew and agent (Adam Levy) who has finally managed to get him a deal – a CBS television retrospective which involves one last link up with Al.

Just the sight of the ultra-short DeVito next to the bulk of Richard Griffiths’ rather too ponderous Al is the stuff of old fashioned comedy, and some of the gags have definitely seen better days. But DeVito’s pyjama clad portrayal of the aging, angry Willie – and Simon’s depiction of a tetchy marriage-like relationship which hasn’t mellowed with the passing of time – carry Thea Sharrock’s rather slow production.

Savoy, The Strand | WC2R 0ET
Tube | Charing Cross tube
Until 28th July | £25 - £28.50

Image: Willie Clark and Al Lewis


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