THE funniest moments in Neil Simon's comedies usually have to do with

the coming together of completely opposite personalities -- Felix and

Oscar in The Odd Couple, for instance, or Paul and Corie in Barefoot in

the Park. Fools (given its Scottish premiere at the end of last week at

the Chandler Studio, RSAMD, Glasgow) takes such incongruity to whimsical


Young Leon is a school teacher positively glowing with the higher joys

of education while Sophia, whom he loves at first sight, is as supremely

ignorant as she is lovely. Ah! 'tis the curse of Kulyenchikov at work .

. . or rather a cheerfully scratched together plot line which borrows

various elements from Chekovian short stories, fairy tales and

pantomime, to create a seriously silly farce.

Events before the curtain rises (in around 1890) mean that everyone in

the Russian village of Kulyenchikov has been cursed with profound

stupidity. Enter our school teacher hero, Leon, who knows nothing of

this, of course, but has arrived to bring culture, the classics,

philosophy, et al to a community that can't tell the day of the week or

in some cases even remember its own name.

What follows is pretty much boy meets girl stuff, frequently enlivened

by Simon's exploitation of the inevitable misunderstandings that arise

between Leon and the villagers. There are some splendid one-liners, some

delicious running gags but frankly the script lacks the incisive sparkle

that one expects from Simon.

Is it a happy ending? Well the curse is lifted but when everybody gets

smart, the going gets more realistically worldly in the village, though,

for Leon, it's a chance to settle for the simple pleasures of family

life. Awe, shucks! Made in Glasgow -- a student company from within the

RSAMD's own ranks -- offer an amiable production of a comedy which is

remarkably sticky with sentiment.

At times it's as if one was being mugged in the mind with melted

molasses. David Tennant brings a nice naivety to the learned Leon, Emma

Fielding makes very nice work of Sophia's pretty little instances of

intellectual clutziness. The whole cast, despite wrestling with cod

Russian accents, act with an engaging freshness but really the whole

thing is too soggy, too wide-eyed, too contrivedly cute to be more than

a satisfying sketch drawn out beyond its merits.