Clever farce from the music hall boys

The Sunshine Boys @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

The Sunshine Boys @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

By Christopher Smith

This play offers the brief encounters of two old buffers meeting again at the terminus of a music hall career they have made together.

All they can do is rail at one another like a pair of bogey men until they are shunted off together to wait for the end in a siding.

Dramatist Neil Simon takes a little while building up the platform for his clever farce, but then he is away at express speed, rarely slowing, never stopping and with a shower of one-liners shooting up while points are scored. Ron Moody is the driver, Brian Murphy the fireman, or perhaps it's the other way about for they go for one another hammer and tongs, though there is no doubt who is the dab hand with the poker.

Always reversing from showbiz lovie-doviedom, they are never tender with one another. But we soon realise that even after going their separate ways for a decade they just cannot break a coupling formed by more than 40 years on the road together.

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Mark Rayment is the director, Robert Jones builds a set whose solidity contrasts with the light construction of the plot, and the cast seizes every opportunity offered by small conventional roles to support the two stars who really are just the ticket for this particularly entertaining excursion into comic psychology.

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