This play is for every son or daughter who has struggled (or is struggling) to come into their own. To dream their own dreams, and live their own lives, even if that means floundering for a little bit. Basically, it’s for all of us.
That’s the amazing thing about Theatre in the Round’s production of Neil Simon’s play “Come Blow Your Horn,” which opened last night in Minneapolis. Never mind that the play was Simon’s first, or that he wrote it in 1961. It still rings loud and true today. And the laughs still bite.
The play follows Buddy Baker, a 21-year-old who is fresh out of college and the army, but still living at home with his over-protective and controlling parents (“The living room?” Buddy jokes. “You mean the room with all the lamps covered in cellophane?”). Buddy moves in with his older brother Alan, a “bum” in his parents’ eyes since he is over-30 and unmarried.
We, as the audience, then watch as the brothers interact with lady-friends and with their parents, from our unique vantage points on the outskirts of their apartment living room. Thanks to the unique roundness and intimacy of the theater, the audience feels in the moment with the characters, a sense only heightened when the characters address the audience directly, as Buddy and Alan’s father often does to emphasize his disappointment in them.
Some moments are sad, as we watch Mrs. Baker’s general frustration and helplessness with technology, or the scotch-drinking that helps the characters get through their lives, but most of the play is light-hearted, comical and lovely.
The acting is understated and real; the characters believable. Pretty shocking considering the fact that all the actors are volunteers, performing in the theater by night and working – for the most part – other jobs by day (several are students, one is a librarian, another an Alzheimer’s researcher at the U). In fact, Theatre in the Round’s whole shtick – it being a volunteer-run non-profit and the oldest community theater in the Twin Cities – is enough of a reason to see the show.
Although the play is a bit on the long side (you can’t blame Theatre in the Round for that one), the last act’s crisis, peak and relief are worth it. I highly recommend you check it out.
Neil Simon’s “Come Blow Your Horn” is playing at Theatre in the Round weekends until August 1st. Tickets are $20 but just $18 for seniors and $10 for students on Fridays and Sundays. For information, call the theatre’s box office at 612-333-3010 or visit its website at www.TheatreintheRound.org.
*The FTC made me do it: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a pair of tickets to attend this show for free in the hope that I would mention it on TC Jewfolk. But getting the tickets for free doesn’t mean that I was obligated to give a glowing review. I wouldn’t recommend anything that I don’t think you’d enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Blah, blah, blah…
(Photos: copyright Act One, Too, Ltd.)