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Review Roundup: Danny DeVito in THE SUNSHINE BOYS - All The Reviews


Thea Sharrock's production of THE SUNSHINE BOYS starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths opened last night, 17 May, at Savoy Theatre. BroadwayWorld has gathered all of the reviews below - updating live as they come in.

Joining Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths as the ageing vaudevillian team Willie Clark and Al Lewis in Neil Simon's award-winning comedy The Sunshine Boys are Rebecca Blackstone (Miss Mackintosh), Nick Blakeley (Eddie), Peter Cadden (Voice of TV Director), Johnnie Fiori (Registered Nurse), Adam Levy (Ben Silverman) and William Maxwell (Patient).

The Sunshine Boys is designed by Hildegard Bechtler with lighting by Neil Austin, music by Adrian Johnston and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.

The Sunshine Boys is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Richard Willis and Tulchin Bartner Productions.

The Sunshine Boys continues at the Savoy Theatre for a strictly limited run until 28 July 2012.

Michael Billington, The Guardian: "Thea Sharrock's production treats the play as a character study rather than a mechanical gag-fest and yields two glowing performances. DeVito's Willie is an extraordinary mix of the hard-nosed old pro, who explains why words with a "k" are funny, and the malevolent loner. For such a small man, DeVito exudes a disproportionate rage, but he makes you feel Willie's volcanic anger stems from his yearning to work. Griffiths, as his former partner, is mellower but displays a silvery determination when it comes to the precise placement of a chair and has the look of a wounded man."

Peter "Danny DeVito makes his West End debut here and gets the lion's share of the show both in terms of on-stage time and script. In fact, we don't get to see Richard Griffiths until midway through the first half, and he is absent for quite a bit of the second half too. [...] There are relatively few laughs in what is a low-key kind of comedy that now, rather sadly, seems dated. [...] The stars here may have immaculate credentials, but the play itself does not have the lustre to match.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail: "One reason the second half is so much better [thatn the first] is that by then, Willie has calmed down. Mr DeVito's voice ceases its whiny shouting. It becomes almost too quiet. But he really is an asset to the show, his character a clenched fist of bragging resentment, eyes blinking in defiance, his jaw bulldogged against all comers."

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph: "Just to look at this pair is enough to make you grin broadly. DeVito is short, stout, apparently bereft of a neck and prone to extraordinary arias of frustration and simmering discontent. At times he physically vibrates with fury. Griffiths, in contrast, is massively obese, almost spookily calm in his demeanour, and moves with a curious, unexpected delicacy. You get the feeling that he could eat a couple of DeVitos, sunny-side up, for breakfast and still have room for a generous portion of corned beef hash on the side. [...] This is a golden evening that finds the West End at the top of its game."

Paul Taylor, The Independent: "Though there are many real-life examples of "little and large" comedy pairings, these two actors – each excellent in their different ways – never convince you that Simon's fictional duo had spent more than 40 years as a headlining vaudeville double act. Nor, I'm afraid, does the now tired script. [...] There is none of the emotional depth that would have allowEd Griffiths, with his ability to suggest humane hinterland, to blossom."

David Benedict, Variety: "Helmer Sharrock seems to have spent more time delineating the characters' differences than on allowing us to see them as the partnership that proved so enduring. [...] It's not so much that they appear out of touch, it's as if they've barely met."

Robert Shore, The Metro: "The first half of the show, set in Clark's fraying hotel suite, is slow and over-elaborate but after the interval, things pick up when we travel to the TV studios and get a snippet of an old Lewis and Clark routine. It's a hammy quick-fire treat; that it is so outdated is part of the fun. You'll probably wish that Simon had dug a little deeper emotionally but Griffiths and DeVito make a fine pair of Beckettian swells."

Henry Hitchings, "Danny DeVito is wonderful in this revival of Neil Simon's Seventies comedy. It's his West End debut, and he delivers something close to a masterclass: a commanding mix of energetic humour, cute timing and simmering resentment. [...] Griffiths's interpretation of the comparatively relaxed Al is strong on well-observEd Mannerisms but lacks emotional weight." 

Mark Shenton, The Stage: "Instead of stunt casting, it's a pleasure to watch two veteran actors who clearly have enormous affection for each other, playing two former vaudeville partners who no longer share the same kind of fondness. [...] In true Simon fashion, there's also an inevitable streak of sentimentality, too, but as played so beautifully by these two actors under the direction of Thea Sharrock, it feels as truthful as it rueful."

Photo Credit: Johan Persson.

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