It is said that the roots of all comedy lie in someone else’s pain.
The pain explored in Neil Simon’s 1972 play, The Sunshine Boys, touches many bases; lost youth, lost friendship; lost faculties.
But from that pain come laughs a-plenty, both the smutty snigger and the outright belly-laugh.
Tony Dart and Tony Doye (good to see him back on a Portsmouth stage) play the warring comedians who are brought back together to recreate their act, eleven years after one walked out on the other. Willie Clark (Dart)’s anger is never far from the surface and is convincingly played.
Doye is a fine foil for that anger and the scene in which they recreate the act while deliberately ramping up the irritations for each other works very well.
The only criticism here is that the American accent several times masked the words in the speedy exchanges.
Director John-Paul McCrohon also performs well as Willie’s nephew, Ben, and Zoe Fisher peddles her pneumatic wares wonderfully as a Carry-On style nurse. Equality be damned.
But, wonderfully understated, the performance of the evening comes from Marie Ridley as Willie’s New York, New York nurse.