This May, Luna Playhouse is offering a fine production of the beloved Neil Simon play, The Sunshine Boys. Set in the 1970’s, Simon’s play mixes equal parts humor and pathos in a swansong to the bygone age of vaudeville.
Willie Clark (Aramazd Stepanian), half of a once famous comedy duo, is coaxed by his nephew/ agent Ben (Jody Bardin) to team up with erstwhile partner Al Lewis (Carl Coughlan) for one last show. Old wounds are quickly reopened, and the ironically named “Sunshine Boys” can barely get through a simple conversation without battling each other’s colossal egos.
Stepanian’s Clark is an emotional, hulking bear of a man, bellowing his dialogue in heavily-accented English, and serves as a wonderful contrast to Coughlan’s urbane, mannered Lewis. The second act showcases the actors’ finest work – a simmering debate over how best to rehearse the duo’s old comedy sketches.
The production experienced a few birthing pains – a hefty portion of flubbed or stepped-on lines bogged down the pace and sapped a few easy laughs. Some character decisions seemed dubious, chief among them a muddy French accent that gets act four off to a rocky start. Jody Bardin’s Ben skirted affectation from time to time, and the poignancy of the last scene was undercut by a jarring dénouement.
On the whole, however, the dedicated thesps and technicians of Luna Playhouse have brought Simon’s masterpiece to vibrant life, and most audiences will find a lot to love in this production.
May 1,8,15,22,29 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday Matinees: May 2,9,16,23,30 @ 2 pm
3706 San Fernando Rd.