Photo courtesy of the Perth Classic Festival
The Star-Spangled Girl has never been considered one of Neil Simon’s stronger plays — even by Simon, who is reported as saying that he “knew it didn’t have the body” to be “a powerful comedy.”
The 1966 script contains a number of the playwright’s trademark one-liners, but is tentative in stepping into political waters, despite the fact that the storyline supposedly focuses on two radicals publishing a protest magazine in San Francisco.
Any radical views have little punch mainly because Simon is really writing a cute love-triangle comedy in which the only near-political comment is when Sophie, the southern-belle patriot, says she would fight for freedom of speech, no matter how wrong the views expressed.
Despite the title, this play does not sparkle. Nevertheless, the Classic Theatre Festival production, directed by Laurel Smith, is still bubbly and quite entertaining, particularly in the faster-moving second act.
Richard Gelinas, as the lovesick Norman, Kate Gordon as the traditional southerner and Trevor Pease as the straight man of the trio all deliver strong performances, enhanced by good visuals and effective stage business.
But a good ensemble production can carry weak material only part of the way and The Star-Spangled Girl remains something of a disappointment.
The Classic Theatre Festival production of The Star-Spangled Girl continues at the Full Circle Theatre, Perth, to August 4.
Classic Theatre Festival
Full Circle Theatre, Perth
Star-Spangled Girl by Neil Simon
Director: Laurel Smith
Set and lighting: David Magladry
Sound: Matthew Behrens
Costumes: Renate Seller
Andy Hobart…………………Trevor Pease
Norman Cornell………………Richard Gelinas
Sophie Rauschmeyer…………Kate Gordon