Dreyfuss and Mason starred together in the film version of Simon's The Goodbye Girl, which won a Golden Globe Award for Mason and an Academy Award for Dreyfuss, then aged 29 and the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor category.
In The Prisoner of Second Avenue, the couple play husband and wife, Mel and Edna Edison, as Mel battles through job loss and a nervous breakdown in New York City. Though the play was written in 1971, Simon says it is highly relevant today. 'In my opinion, I could have written it about the New York of 1999,' says the playwright. 'With giant mergers of corporations, thousands of employees have lost their jobs. Paper-thin walls of apartment houses bring every sound of your neighours into your bedroom, the clanging of garbage cans being collected at four o'clock in the morning rattles your nerves. Nervous breakdowns must have been around since the Renaissance. The more we change, the more we stay the same.'
Dreyfuss and Mason are joined in the cast by Harry Ditson, Frances Jeater, Janette Ledge and Margaret Robertson. The play is directed by David Taylor, with set and costume design by Simon Higlett, lighting design by Mick Hughes and sound design by Paul Arditti.
Dreyfuss' film career, spanning three decades, includes Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Down and Out in Beverley Hills and Mr Holland's Opus. His stage credits include the Broadway production of Death and the Maiden with Glenn Close and Gene Hackman.
Mason's film credits include Promises in the Dark, Chapter Two and Only When I Laugh. Her numerous on and off Broadway stage credits include Night of the Iguana, Lake No Bottom, Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday Wanda June, Simon's The Good Doctor and Harold Pinter's Old Times.
Neil Simon's many plays and films include Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, California Suite, Chapter Two, They're Playing Our Song, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues (1994 Tony Award), Lost in Yonkers (1991 Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award), Seems Like Old Times and Only When I Laugh.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue receives its British premiere at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford and then tours to Oxford, Coventry, Richmond and Malvern before arriving at the West End's Haymarket.