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Review of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”

Melanie Metz, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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I was extremely excited to go see “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” at the Walnut Street Theatre. Neil Simon is a famous playwright who has received multiple Tony awards and many of his plays are about personal experiences. “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” focuses on the writers’ room of a weekly comedy show in the 1950s, where the politics of both the TV network and the government have a big impact on the content of the show. When the curtain rose, the entire set was an extremely detailed room on one of the top floors of a New York City office building. The room had many mismatched chairs and couches, with a throne chair in the center. Stage right was a table with a coffee pot, together with pastries and bagels, which decreased in number as the show progressed. Although the set appeared small, it was perfect for everything that went on in “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”.

The play is about a group of writers with dynamic personalities who pen the script for a comedy show in the 1950s. Lucas Brickman, the new writer, acts as the narrator for introducing all of the characters and explaining the story. Lucas works for the comedy show host, Max Prince, who had an ongoing battle with the NBC executives because his humor is too sophisticated. Throughout the show, Max goes through many emotional moments, while dealing with personal issues, a decreasing show budget, and difficult political and social undercurrents.

“Laughter on the 23rd Floor” was very well done, as expected from the Walnut Street Theatre Company. All of the actors portrayed their characters well, and most actors were onstage for the entire 2+ hour show. One writer, sporting a Russian accent, was worried and scared throughout, while another writer was aggressive and made demeaning comments. The director did a very good job, since all of the dialogue was quick and responsive. Lighting was well done, and in the end, when the scene was more dramatic, the lights were dim and focused on important set pieces.

Overall, the play was well executed, including the acting, set and directing. I personally found the play sometimes confusing, and difficult to grasp all the concepts. A lot of the humor and drama is tied to the political issues of the 1950s, with which I am not that familiar. However, I found the show enjoyable and amusing, and the show makes you think and stay on your feet.

Laughter on the 23 Floor

Walnut Street Theatre

January 17 – March 5, 2017

Tickets: $20 – $85

Running Time: 2 hours

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The School Newspaper of Harriton High School
Review of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”