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Comedy Playhouse: ‘Plaza Suite (Cool It)’ & ‘Serving Up Trouble’

Sway Drama Club (SDC) is dishing up a tasty treat of two one-act plays, with a ploughman’s supper during the interval, under their Comedy Playhouse banner – all for the bargain price of just a tenner.  The first course is a playlet adaptation from the 1968 Neil Simon comedy play (and subsequent film) Plaza Suite, with Serving Up Trouble written and directed by SDC stalwart Lisa Siuda for the dessert.  Definitely fantastic value and an appetising prospect!

The original Plaza Suite play is comprised of three separate stories which are all set in Suite 719 of the New York City’s Plaza Hotel (an idea borrowed from an earlier Noel Coward play, much to his chagrin). The third Act or playlet is sub-titled Cool It, and is generally considered to be the funniest. This is probably why it has been singled out for individual airings. It’s about a young bride-to-be, Mimsey, who in a rush of nervousness has locked herself in the bathroom and refuses to leave, despite cajoling and threats from her mother and father – Norma and Roy Hubley. A series of farcical moments ensue as the parents’ efforts to get their daughter to attend her wedding become ever more desperate.

In contrast, Lisa Siuda has drawn on her personal experience of dinner parties for the script of Serving Up Trouble. As a host who has naturally been keen to impress and please her guests with good food and by creating the perfect ambience, she is well aware of the things that could possibly go wrong. So, can the odds of that happening be shortened by ordering a Chinese Takeaway and having an abundant supply of alcohol on tap – or is that a recipe for disaster?

The Plaza Suite playlet is a short piece, lasting less than 30 minutes, and it is amusing – though perhaps from a critic’s perspective the humour, which would have been fresh and original in the 1960s, now feels to be somewhat worn and tired. That said Sandi Cox, as Norma Hubley, and Richard Dix, as Roy Hubley, ensure the story bowls along nicely and deliver their lines with affected American accents and good timing to the delight of an appreciative audience. Samantha Boulter, playing Mimsey, has a cameo appearance at the very end when she bursts out of the bathroom in her wedding dress ready to do the deed.

Serving Up Trouble, to Lisa Siuda’s credit, has a good and very funny script, lasting about 45 to 50 minutes. Although set in familiar Alan Ayckbourn territory, there is freshness and originality as funny line follows funny line that makes the play entertaining and enjoyable. However, good comedy is dependent upon exact timing and on the opening night showing the interplay between the actors and the flow of dialogue is an area for further refinement and improvement. Even so, the cast of Michelle Turner, John Petroff, Sandi Cox (again), Chris Davis, Sara Yarwood and John James have fun with their respective parts and they acquit themselves well. Indeed, judged by the positive audience reaction, the odd missing line and ad lib only makes the whole thing funnier!

If you want to a good evening out and to join in with the fun at this SDC Comedy Playhouse, you’ll need to be quick as there are only two more nights to go: 29 and  30 November.