The book is organized into five sections.
Neil Simon seems to have a comic sixth sense that allows him to find the essential humor in a given life situation, much as a honeybee uses its ultraviolet vision to locate nectar-laden flowers. But just as a bee's value goes beyond its ability to produce honey for us to consume, Simon's comedies yield more than sweet laughter. More often than not his fertile imagination brings his stage characters to life through humor, which sometimes stings us too.
Time and again in Simon's plays, a character tries to make contact with someone, even if that someone is as unpromising as an estranged parent or spouse, a blind date, an odd upstairs neighbor, or an incompatible collaborator. If, as the playwright believes, we live absurd lives, then holding out for happily-ever-after perfection is pointless. "Only connect," says a character in Forster's Howards End. That seems to be Simon's battle cry too, no matter how improbable, how difficult the joining. Has any playwright of our time connected more earnestly, more often, than Neil Simon? Like Robert in Stephen Sondheim's Company, Simon's characters realize that while they have plenty of reasons not to be with somebody, they have no reason to be alone. In the end we find ourselves saying, Connect, Corie and Paul; Oscar and Felix; Jennie and George; Lewis and Clark; Diana and Sidney; Kate and Eugene. We're pulling for you, even when we can't fully explain why.
return to Neil Simon intro
return to home page