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Come Blow Your Horn

Neil Simon
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
(2005)

Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn became his first Broadway hit in 1961 when he was well-known mostly for writing TV comedy for Sid Caesar and Garry Moore alongside other great comedy writers such as Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. It is set in the changing world, also examined by a lot of British plays, where parents want their children to carry on the family business and traditions but their children have ideas of their own, which they have every intention of pursuing.

Alan Baker has been living the bachelor life in his own apartment, much to the disgust of his parents, for a number of years while still working in his father's wax fruit business. When his naïve young brother Buddy arrives to stay, having plucked up the courage to leave home, Alan decides he should teach him about the world. However when his love for Connie stops Alan from partying quite so much, Buddy turns unto the old Alan and Alan turns into his disapproving father.

Jacob Murray's production of this hilarious comedy moves at a breakneck pace from beginning to end, occasionally bordering on farce. The comic dialogue is delivered perfectly throughout, but there are also some hilarious pieces of purely physical comedy that bring the house down. It is only by a skilful setup and perfect timing that something as simple as opening a pencil dispenser could produce show-stopping laughter from the audience.

The performers are all superb. Andrew Langtree is particularly wonderful and very funny as Buddy, and there are also some great comic creations from Lucy Chalkley as the airhead Peggy and Malcolm Rennie and Amanda Boxer as Alan and Buddy's mother and father. In the midst of all this chaos, Jamie Glover and Sarah-Louise Young hold it all together well as the relatively 'straight' characters Alan and Connie.

This is a slick, hilarious and wonderfully performed production of a very funny play from one of the world's most performed playwrights, providing a very entertaining night at the theatre.

"Come Blow Your Horn" runs until 25 June 2005

Reviewer: David Chadderton