It occurred to me watching “The Good Doctor” this time that its eight vignettes both riff on sketch comedy shows like Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows" where playwright Neil Simon got his start, and are extended jokes. They all have a setup, middle and a punch line or “punch situation” of one kind or another.
The New Jewish Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers is a delight from beginning to end. It isn’t a perfect play, but under the sure direction of Doug Finlayson and the abundance of talent on stage and behind the scenes, it is rendered as a lovely and relatable story of family with all that word emotions that powerful word connotes.
There's something just very simple, and pure, and satisfying about good theatre. A good script, in the hands of capable actors, and with competent technical support, is more rare than one might think. But not so rare that you can't see it now in St. Louis Actors' Studio's current production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. Being presented at the intimate Gaslight Theatre in midtown St. Louis, this production is just good theatre. Not perfect theatre, but VERY GOOD theatre.
Dr. Anton Chekhov wrote short humor pieces to help pay his way through medical school long before he became one of Russia's (and the world) foremost playwrights. Neil Simon's nickname is "Doc," because of his talent as a play doctor. The former's stories and sketches aren't very funny anymore, but they found a second life after Simon performed his ultimate fix-it, adapting the old tales to appeal to modern sensibilities; a second opinion, in a way. And Avalon's slick production of the result, The Good Doctor, provides a lot of laughter which is, of course, the best medicine.