12 August 2009

Neil Simon's Plaza Suite - a play I adore



One play that I'm particularly fond of happens to be Plaza Suite, written by American writer Neil Simon in his collection of plays called A Visitor From Forest Hills. I remember being delighted by its succint humour achieved entirely through witty exchange of dialogues, gentle irony and deliciously etched out characters.
The play entirely hinges on dialogues between two of its central characters, the middle-aged husband and wife couple of Norma and Roy Hubley. Both are anxious as their only daughter Mimsie is getting married. We're told about Roy - a successful business who possibly is aggressive and ruthless in his professional deals but is nervous as hell when it comes to the business of marrying his daughter. Norma, his wife, is more soft-spoken, keen to keep up appearances and maintain her image.

So when Mimsie suddenly locks herself up in the bathroom minutes before her wedding, all hell breaks loose. When the play starts, you see Norma begging her daughter to come out. Unable to persuade her, she calls up her husband who is downstaires in the midst of preparations. He freaks out when he hears what his wife has to say, and both - start from requesting Mimsie to come out, then go on to intimidating her, then blackmailing her and then again begging. Beyond the fact that both are obviously worried for their daughter, they have their own specific reasons to be annoyed. Norma - earlier so thrilled by the preparations - is scared that a canceled wedding will cause her embarrassment. Roy - on his part - has spent a great deal on the marriage and like most men would is fretting about the costs. So after itemizing the large sums of money he's spent on heaps of food, liquor and musicians, he yells to her, "Mimsey, this is your father. I want you and your four hundred dollar wedding dress out of there in five seconds!"

Roy - a bit hyper and blunt - unleashes his anger on his wife blaming her for what their daughter has done. "You must have said something..." he yells. Norma is equally mad with her husband and keeps warning him to keep his volume low. Both argue a great deal - hurting each other a fair bit in the bargain, blaming the other for being a bad parent and generally being at cross purposes throughout. And yet, for all of Roy's temper and Norma's superficial concerns( she's sulking over her ripped stockings throughout), their relationship is not without some contemptous affection for one another.

The play is racy, light-hearted, fun-- with great many quotes and crisp exchanges. Yes, there is an underlying thought. Mimsie locks herself up precisely because she is scared of becoming like her parents. But the play is not a sermon on marriage and is more a frolicsome take on different personality-types.
-Sandhya Iyer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you read the entire play? What you wrote about is only Act III. Each of the 3 acts are different, with different characters and plots, although it is located in the same hotel suite.