Having had success in 1966 with Plaza Suite, consisting of three one act plays within a play set in New York, Neil Simon repeated the experiment 10 years later with California Suite which included four plays. Both were subsequently made into films, attracting none too favourable reviews at the time.
A scene from California Suite at the Mill at Sonning, Reading
As one might expect, it is all very West Coast, set in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Hotel and dealing mainly with the war of the sexes. The first play is somewhat low key, with Susan Skipper playing the wife from New York visiting Martyn Stanbridge as her estranged husband, and determined to take their teenage daughter back East.
Things look up in scene two with Jeffrey Holland as an errant husband, oversleeping after a night of imbibing and finding a young female asleep beside him. With the anticipated imminent arrival of his wife, played by Jo Ross, panic takes over. Chloe Holmes, as the body in the bed, is hilarious without a word being spoken.
Ross teams up with Stanbridge in scene three as an actress in town for the Oscars and, having been nominated, is seeking reassurance from her husband about her possible acceptance speech and her imagined hump, revealed by her off the shoulder evening gown.
Skipper partners Holland in the final scene which develops into a free for all following a game of tennis. A notable cast, adapting to their various roles with comparative ease, along with Anthony Valentine’s excellent direction, makes for an entertaining evening.