Entertainment & Arts

DeVito praised for West End debut in The Sunshine Boys

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Media captionDanny DeVito and Richard Griffiths discuss the play on opening night

Danny DeVito has made his West End debut in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys at London's Savoy Theatre.

DeVito, 67, and co-star Richard Griffiths won praise for their performances, though some critics expressed misgivings.

"It shows DeVito and Griffiths at the top of their game", enthused the Telegraph - but The Independent called it a "disappointment".

The play follows a pair of vaudeville comedians who reunite after 43 years.


The Sunshine Boys was first staged on Broadway in 1972 and then famously made into a film in 1975, with Walter Matthau and Academy Award-winner George Burns.

Telegraph critic Charles Spencer wrote: "Thea Sharrock directs a pitch-perfect production that beautifully captures fleeting moments of tenderness in the comedy without ever turning mushy."

Seeing DeVito's West End debut was "something to tell your grandchildren", wrote The Times' Libby Purves, who gave the show four stars.

However, she felt DeVito shone more than Britain's Richard Griffiths, who won awards for his role in Alan Bennett's The History Boys and played Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.

"The arrival of Lewis slows the pace," she said. "Adept though he is, in the less acerbic role, Richard Griffiths does not spark like DeVito. But then, who could?"

Image caption DeVito appeared in the 1971 stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Meanwhile, Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail said after a slow start, he enjoyed the second half, but left "feeling 10 per cent underwhelmed".

Complimentary of De Vito, he added: "He really is an asset to the show, his character a clenched fist of bragging resentment, eyes blinking in defiance, his jaw bulldogged against all comers."

The Independent's Paul Taylor gave the production two stars, branding it a "disappointment", which lacks "emotional depth".

"Admittedly, there are laugh out loud moments when we watch Al (Griffiths) and Willie (DeVito) perform their legendary doctor sketch.

"But it's easier to view Griffiths and DeVito as actors who have enjoyed each other's company during few weeks of rehearsal."

The Sunshine Boys runs at the Savoy Theatre until 28 July.

Speaking before the show, the actor and film director DeVito - who is also filming a TV show entitled It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia - confirmed he is working on a follow-up to the 1988 comedy film Twins.

"We're developing a screen play for Arnold (Schwarzenegger), myself and Eddie Murphy to play triplets, so it's going to be really whacky," he said. "I can't wait to do it."

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