David Ellenstein (left) as Max Prince and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper as Val
Lately, I’ve waded into murky, nostalgic waters more than I prefer. I blame the dwindling sunlight of the waning summer, something about the way the shorter days call out the ephemeral and fleeting nature of things. If an entire day can pass so quickly, what about a week? A year? A decade?
Yet, that very evanescence lends a certain gravity to the momentousness of all that happens in the blink of an eye. As life rushes by at breakneck speed, it’s amazing just how much breadth and substance gets packed in there while we aren’t paying particular attention; and sometimes a rearward perspective provides exactly the framework to understand things as they were.
North Coast Rep dives headlong into the nostalgia trip with its production of Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Watching the play is tantamount to sharing in Simon’s fond remembrance of his days writing for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, but the play has an uncommonly appreciative bent. Usually, wistful nostalgia occurs in the form of mourning the loss of the good old days. That’s the worst thing one can do to precious memories, and it’s the reason I try to avoid nostalgic reminiscence whenever possible.Why fuel the fires of present sadness by burning happy memories? But, in Laughter, I get the sense that Simon considered himself lucky to have been there for the end of an era — a phrase that is warranted here but that gets far too much vulgar currency.
Is it really the “end of an era” when Hugh Jackman will no longer play Wolverine in Marvel movies? How about when a baseball team fails to make the World Series?
Seems like a stretch.
To be fair, celebrity fanboys and sports writers need to overstate. They would have precious little to talk about if they didn’t aggrandize. I, along with Neil Simon, will reserve that sentiment for things that left an indelible mark on history.
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Laughter on the 23rd Floor plays through November 2.