Plaza Suite: thrice is nice as hilarity abounds in Neil Simon play

PREPARE for an avalanche of hilarity this December as one of Neil Simon’s most popular plays comes to the Old Mill Theatre stage.

Directed by Susie Conte, Plaza Suite looks at three couples who successively occupy the same room at a New York City hotel.

Each act chronicles a moment in time:

  • A suburban couple with their marriage in tatters take the suite while their house is being painted and discover it’s the same one they honeymooned in 23 years before.
  • A Hollywood producer who, after three marriages, looks for something fresh and calls a childhood sweetheart – now a suburban housewife – for a little sexual diversion.
  • A mother and father fight about the best way to get their daughter out of the bathroom and down to the ballroom where guests are waiting for her to get married.

Neil Simon is famed for writing The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Sweet Charity, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Biloxi Blues, among others, with Plaza Suite winning a 1968 Tony Award for best direction of a play.

Conte, who also appears in the show, says she is a fan of Simon’s work and wanted to direct a comedy.

“I really like the dynamic between the individual couples and, as soon as I read Plaza Suite, I could see it on stage,” she said. “People often say ‘if only the walls could talk…’ and this play does exactly that, giving an inside look into the problems of the three couples. Plaza Suite showcases Simon at his best – witty, sophisticated and hilarious.”

With an extensive background as an actor and director, Conte has appeared in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth and The Tempest, Oh What A Lovely War and The Misanthrope at the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She directed The Vagina Monologues at the Subiaco Arts Centre in 2010 and recently worked as assistant director and stage manager for Ghosts at the same venue.

“My main challenge with Plaza Suite is the two-room stage,” Conte said. “There’s a lot of movement on the stage between the living room and bedroom and I need to keep it coherent without looking messy.”

Plaza Suite plays at 8pm, December 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 and 15 with a 2pm matinee December 9. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 9367 8719, oldmilltheatre@iinet.net.au or online at http://oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets/.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post.