Michael Menendian’s production of Neil Simon’s classic falls somewhat flat despite first-rate writing and the hard work of an earnest cast. Based on Simon’s own experiences working for Sid Caesar, the play takes on television’s response to McCarthyism in a comedy television show’s writing room. Despite explorations of censorship and the always-timely problem of being forced to dumb down writing, the show feels stale, and laughs don’t come quite frequently enough. Acting is uneven and ranges from farce to drama without much character development. More than anything else, the lines don’t seem to move quite quickly enough, given the witty ‘50s banter that provides the real meat of the play. However, overall charm outweighs the occasional tedium, and when the jokes land, they’re often hysterical. The art direction matches the rest, with a visually cluttered but appealing set that doesn’t add much to the story but gives you something to look at between funny bits. (Monica Westin)
At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, (773)338-2177. This production is now closed.