Association of Community Theatre


Players Theatre


This is a play written by Neil Simon that first premièred on Broadway in 1961, and then opened in London a year later.


The play tells the story of two brothers. Buddy, a 21-year-old, who has yet to have a relationship with a woman, and his older brother , Alan, who lives on his own in a bachelor pad in New York and leading a carefree lifestyle. As the play progresses Alan discovers real feelings for one of the many women with whom he is currently seeing and when she decides she will leave him, he falls apart. The humour comes from the differences between the two brothers. Buddy sets about turning himself into a ladies’ man on the advice and guidance from his older brother, whilst Alan decides to marry and settle down and become a responsible member of the family business.


The set, designed by Anne Wint, was very effective in establishing a bachelor pad in New York. It gave the impression of a 1960s unit, very open plan with a kitchenette, a lounge area and a raised landing that led off to bedrooms. This was a good inclusion to give a platform for further action to take place, and one that could be seen quite easily by all the audience. This meant that the staging had height and depth, as well as space for the actors to move around.


It was evident that a lot of thought and research had gone into the properties for this production, as it generally gave a feel of the 1960s, with the inclusion of things such as the lava lamp, and the very curved furniture. The wallpaper that was used to define the two areas evoked memories of my own childhood, where the large geometric patterns in the living room were very much of the era. There was good placement of furniture that still left enough space for actors to move around. Looking through the window at the skyline gave the impression that this indeed was an apartment that was several floors from the ground. Through this window the lighting plot created the impression that time moved on throughout the day.


Simon, who recently died in August 2018 aged 91,was brought up in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents. The humour within this play must have been influenced by this background. At times some of this was lost in the delivery of the dialogue by some of the actors. However, this did not overly detract from the enjoyment of the play and the audience  found elements that were delightful, and which had them chortling.


It’s always nice to see new people join a society and Dan Pothecary is somebody that I have not seen before. He was playing the part of Alan, the elder brother who is in his 30s, and still enjoying the playboy lifestyle, much to his father’s dismay. Dan had obviously spent a lot of time practising the New York accent and seemed to have fun delivering the smarmy one-liners when talking to his younger brother and trying to convince him that this lifestyle was something to be cherished and nurtured.


It was interesting to see a change in his attitude, from enjoying the attention of the series of girlfriends, to wanting to settle down and get married by the end of the play.


Robert McGregor, was excellent throughout as Alan’s younger brother, Buddy, who had just turned 21. This was an excellent portrayal of a young man who felt like he had been “living in a convent all his life“. He certainly looked and acted the part of a shy,  uncertain, uncomfortable young man when Peggy, one of Alan’s conquests, comes round to visit. The costume that he wore also reflected his persona, very dowdy, in brown and dull colours giving him a very geeky look. However, after the advice of the more experienced brother to “try the real fruits of life“ there begins a metamorphosis of this young man. At the end of the play he is more confident, relaxed and comfortable in his own ability. Throughout, there was  nice character development from Robert.


Emily Williams gave an assured portrayal of Alan’s some-time girlfriend, Connie. Here was a woman who knew what she wanted. She had got a plan in place to manipulate Alan so that she could give up her career as a singer and become a housewife, thus ending Alan’s bachelor days thus  making him a more acceptable in the eyes of his father.


Lee McGregor and Debbie Burnett were the Baker brothers’ parents. Debbie’s dizziness during a series of telephone calls that she tried to remember or forgot caused mayhem for Alan and certainly had the audience giggling, especially when we found out where the elusive pencils were kept. Lee conveyed his disappointment in his sons. We were able to understand that he felt betrayed and disappointed by their lack of commitment to the family business. Both actors tried hard to play the Jewish parents, whom one presumes were based around Simon’s real life. However, at times some of the humour from the one-liners was lost in the way that the dialogue was delivered by the characters they had created.


Amy Butler gave a nice cameo role as Peggy Evans, a vivacious jobbing actress who was always looking for her big break, and working to get it.


Barbara Harris and David Burns both had input into the direction of this play. This play, very much felt like it could have been written for radio or made into a 60/70s sitcom. It was an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.