One of vaudeville's leading and most beloved comedy teams for 43 years, Al Lewis and Willie Clark, haven't spoken to each other for more than a decade: Clark can no longer abide Lewis' irritating mannerisms. Television beckons with an offer for a nationally broadcast onetime reunion. Can Clark tolerate Lewis' finger-jabbing long enough for one last appearance before an audience of millions?
So goes "The Sunshine Boys," Neil Simon's tribute to classic vaudeville. The Conejo Players are presenting the comedy at their theater in Thousand Oaks through Oct. 1.
The play might be likened to an extension of "The Odd Couple"--a pair of longtime friends, grumbling at each other for a couple of hours--sweetened by Simon's obvious affection for the vaudeville milieu and by some authentic-seeming comic routines. One, known as The Doctor Sketch, is the centerpiece of Lewis and Clark's act; other, equally smartly paced routines appear disguised as dialogue between the two men.
Two of those, in which Lewis and Clark confuse the names of some old pals, are near-classics in the same genre as Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First," impeccably performed by Wayne Collier (Clark) and Don Perlman (Lewis) on the Conejo stage under Gary Romm's direction.