Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jon McNally

Proposals, now playing at Center Repertory Company in Walnut Creek, is a typical Neil Simon play. There is a good story full of some very funny lines and situations, but the heart of the drama is in the characters and how they care about and interact with one another. It is not Neil Simon at his best. The writing is too careful, tuned like a formula Hollywood film.

While good acting is important in any drama, it’s particularly important in this character driven story, especially when many of the characters are flat. Fortunately Center Repertory Company found some excellent acting talent for Proposals. Indeed, it’s the high quality of the actors that gives Simon’s characters the depth needed to transport the audience to a cabin in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Proposals is essentially a family story; the comic thread that runs through the drama is various kinds of “I dos” and “I don’ts,” centering around marriage and divorce in all the modern nuances of those legal institutions. The story of the Hines family is told by the ghost of Clemma Diggins (Cathleen Riddley) who, while alive, worked for the family for so many years that she gained some interesting insights into these people who had grown to love her. Indeed, it is Clemma’s character that is pivotal to this entire drama and Riddley is excellent for the part. Her sense of the comic irony of life brings a depth to this play that Simon always aspires to.

“The way I see things, life is both sad and funny,” Simon said. “I can’t imagine a comical situation that isn’t at the same time also painful.” The entire cast, and especially Riddley, have the life experience and acting talent to portray this bittersweet comedy of life in a way that is at once entertaining and moving.

For tickets call (925) 943-SHOW or visit them on line at

Current / Touring / Archives / Links / Film / Video / Links / Home