Attic Chamber Theatre's 2018 Season
Playwright Neil Simon got his first big break in the early '50s as a staff writer on Sid Caesar's fabled television series Your Show of Shows, and this comedy takes a fictionalized look at the backstage chaos that went into producing one of the landmarks of television's golden age. Max Prince is the star of The Max Prince Show, a popular comedy-variety series that is a major hit on the East Coast, but network executive insists that it's too sophisticated for the Midwest, and urges Prince to dumb down his act. Between the tensions of producing an hour of top-quality comedy each week and being pestered about his ratings, Prince is beginning to unravel. His last line of defense against both the network and the ratings are his writing staff, which spends its days coming up with business for the show while hurling humorous invective at each other and anyone else within earshot. Keeping up a running commentary on the writing, fighting and wacky antics is Simon's alter-ego Lucas Brickman.
Our first show of the seaon was inspired by Simon's early career experience as a junior writer (along with his brother Danny) for Your Show of Shows, the play focuses on Sid Caesar-like Max Prince, the star of a weekly comedy-variety show circa 1953, and his staff, including Simon's alter-ego Lucas Brickman, who maintains a running commentary on the writing, fighting, and wacky antics which take place in the writers' room. Max has an ongoing battle with NBC executives, who fear his humor is too sophisticated for Middle America. The play is notable not only for its insider's look at the personalities and processes of television comedy writing, but also for its reflection of the political and social undercurrents of its time, in particular the rise of Joseph McCarthy, relationships between various (European) American ethnicities, and attitudes toward women.
The work is a roman à clef, with the characters in the play based on Neil Simon's co-writers on Your Show Of Shows. Lloyd Rose, in her Wahington Post review, noted several of the real-life inspirations: the "Sid Caesar-inspired Max Prince", "hypochondriac Ira (played by Ron Orbach, inspired by Mel Brooks)", "dryly witty, sane Kenny (John Slattery, inspired by Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner)", and "fussy Russian emigre Val (Mark Linn-Baker, inspired by Mel Tolkin)....There is no character based on Woody Allen." Woody Allen is often misattributed to the Ira Stone character, as the character in the play is a hypochondriac and Allen went on to use that affectation to great effect in his own comedy career. However, in actuality Simon was poking fun at Mel Brooks.
"One of [Simon's] funniest...Comedy, comedy all the way." – Newsweek
Old style comedy: fast and furious." - The Wall Street Journal
"Enough laughs per minute to assure [it] a long run and many happy audiences." - USA Today
So you can either take the elevator or climb the stairs and join us for Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor
DIRECTED BY DIANE SAVIDES
PERFORMANCES BEGIN JUNE 7TH @ 7PM AND RUN THrough JUNE 15TH
THERE WILL BE A MATINEE ON JUNE 1OTH @ 2PM WITH TALK-BACK TO FOLLOW
Please Note: True to Mr. Simon's work as a writer for comedy shows of the 1950s, this production does contain some adult language and Non-PC comments.