The audience at the Neil Simon Theatre really was having an awfully good time. Scarcely a line of Biloxi Blues had gone by without eliciting a wave of appreciative laughter or applause. For my part, I sat beside my friend who has a soft spot for Neil Simon, feeling like a killjoy and a snob, wishing that I could find some shred of honesty or wit or breadth of comic vision in this play that seemed to be making everyone else so warm and jolly.

I did eventually double up with laughter, once, late in the play. A hush had fallen on the audience. It was a tense moment: some unidentified member of the platoon had been discovered committing an unnatural sexual act in the latrine. Perched on his foot-locker, smoothing down the pages of his journal, Eugene M. Jerome—the hero of Neil Simon’s play—looked troubled. Above him, on an upper bunk sat Arnold Epstein, the brilliant but self-destructive Jew who was always...


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