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Broadway Bound Review

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Two brothers produce a radio comedy based on their own family.

★★★★★

The third in Neil Simon's trilogy about his alter ego, budding writer Eugene, is more stagey and more serious than the previous screen adaptations, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. Completely talk-based and confined to the emotionally tumultuous Jerome household, it has some quickfire gags, but its appeal largely rests on two lovely performances from Momma Anne Bancroft and Grandpa Hume Cronyn.

It's 1948 and Eugene (Parker) is now 22. He and brother Stan (Silverman) are holed up in a bedroom writing a tryout comedy sketch for CBS. Grandpa's in the living room arguing lifestyles with the visiting rich aunt. Momma's in the kitchen slaving over a dinner Dad's not going to eat because he's stepping out with Another Woman. When eventually the boys' triumphant debut is broadcast, the proud family gathered round the wireless are stunned and shamed because the jokes are clearly all inspired by the sarcastic rows and ironic recriminations of the clan.

While Eugene has already been through his rites of passage in the earlier pieces, it is in Broadway Bound that his dreams begin to take shape and he is ready to pack his bags and leave home in every sense. But he's not centre stage wisecracking this time, more the wistful observer, understanding his frustrated father's male menopausal crisis, dreading the decline of his sage grandfather and deeply touched by his mother's manner of dealing with her troubles.

Cronyn as the bed-wetting Trotskyite who "hasn't laughed since the Stock Market crashed" is very sweet and funny, while Bancroft is perfect as the woman who has devoted her life to all these men who are leaving her and whose greatest moment was dancing one dance with George Raft in a palais as a girl.

Side-splitting stuff this is not, but it's pleasing if you have a taste for the theatrical.