As reported over the weekend, the revival of Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" ended its run yesterday after only one week due to poor ticket sales. Today, the NY Times asks what went wrong, and came up with several possible answers: Simon's old-fashioned brand of comedy, the lack of star power, a slumping Broadway economy, an ever-evolving zeitgeist...actually, it seems like everything is what went wrong.
Reporter Patrick Healy writes, "'Brighton Beach Memoirs' is a case study in success and failure on Broadway today. There were no big stars like Jude Law in the current commercial hit 'Hamlet'; there was no marketing campaign that framed the Simon play as a can’t-miss theatrical event, and there was no wow factor that brought the period piece to life, like the breakneck pacing of the popular farce 'Boeing-Boeing' last year." And then he lays some blame on "America’s evolving sense of humor and taste" at this point in time (American Idol, sardonic sitcoms like The Office, frat humor seen in The Hangover) and decides there isn't enough room on Broadway right now for the simple "well-written, straightforward punch line."
Then there's this quote from Matthew Maguire, director of the theater program at Fordham University, who sees the ascent of "Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, [and] Steve Carell," as indicative of audiences wanting comedy "more raw and edgy than Simon's work." Sounds like someone can't wait for "Funny People" to hit Broadway!
The LA Times' James Taylor offers this opinion: "'Brighton Beach Memoirs' is a solid, American play, but it’s not a classic."