A charming new musical closely based on prolific American playwright Neil Simon’s Fools has just enjoyed its world premiere here and is running through November 17. It’s not a terribly deep piece, and not the usual fodder for our serious, politically engaged readers, yet it is so boisterously silly and good-hearted, and suitable for all audiences, that it is truly worth seeing in times that need a little comic relief. Wasn’t it Lenin, after all, who said, “Irony and patience are the principal qualities of the revolutionary?”
The role of the fool is a well established literary type; there probably is no cultural tradition in the world that does not poke gentle fun at the more simple-minded among us. He shows up in the best places—Shakespeare, the operatic stage, countless Russian novels. Critics always like to point out how the fool, like a child, can say things to the face of authority that others cannot: On the surface their comments are illogical and meaningless, but underneath them resides a deeper lucidity about power and its abuses. I’ll pick up on this thread further down.