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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Come Blow Your Horn

Also see Susan's review of Detroit


Elliott Kashner and and Alex Alferov
Before Neil Simon became an icon of the popular American theater, he was a struggling young author taking the leap from working in television to writing for the theater. American Century Theater in Arlington, Virginia, and director Rip Claassen have created an affectionate production of Simon's first Broadway play (and first success), Come Blow Your Horn.

The 1961 comedy is very much of its time—slick bachelors in classy New York apartments, long weekends with beautiful, willing bimbos, sensible "nice girls" holding out for marriage—but Simon provides an undercurrent of heart and genuine feeling. In his take on the theme, shy 21-year-old Buddy Baker (Alex Alferov) finally leaps out of the parental nest, landing on the doorstep of his high-living brother Alan (Elliott Kashner). Both brothers are trying to break free of their loving, smothering, guilt-producing mother (Allison Turkel) and the irascible father (Mick Tinder) for whom they both work. (That's the innovation. Did Hugh Hefner-style playboys have to deal with visiting mothers trying to force them to eat?)

While the sons are the lead roles, the parents get the chance to chew the scenery. Tinder earns laughs with his dyspeptic delivery of lines, while Turkel has the tour de force moment when she attempts to memorize several phone messages in succession.

Kashner exudes cool confidence as a man who thinks he has everything figured out, until the tables turn and he realizes he isn't as sure of himself as he thinks he is. As Buddy, Alferov is a sweet nebbish who discovers a whole different personality with his brother's help. Lizzie Albert and Heather Benjamin add sparkle as, respectively, a dumb blonde who is smart about her own future and a woman who finally stands up to Alan.

Claassen's direction is a bit heavy on the physical humor early on, but the conversational scenes work better than the ones when Kashner trips on a bare floor or flops onto a sofa when his romantic quarry escapes his clutches.

Patricia Tinder's costume designs go a long way toward defining the characters: Kashner's casual elegance, Tinder's perpetually wrinkled suit, Turkel's long knitted cape, and Alferov's third-act outfit that shows how Buddy has emerged from his cocoon.

American Century Theater
Come Blow Your Horn
September 12th - October 12th
By Neil Simon
Alan Baker: Elliott Kashner
Peggy Evans: Lizzie Albert
Buddy Baker: Alex Alferov
Mr. Baker: Mick Tinder
Connie: Heather Benjamin
Mrs. Baker: Allison Turkel
Visitor: Special Guest
Directed by Rip Claassen
Gunston Theatre II, 2700 S. Lang St.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: www.americancentury.org


Photo: Johannes Markus


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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