'Barefoot in the Park' — an older play, but still fresh

Pewter Plough Playhouse tackles this romantic comedy

Special to The TribuneJuly 10, 2014 

From left, Branden Fetzer, Erin Parsons, Don Dallman, Lynn Cuny, Christine Miller and John Rothman in "Barefoot in the Park."

PHOTO BY IAIN MACADAM

Nearly a half century old, Neil Simon’s play “Barefoot in the Park” has withstood the test of time — except for the term “rat fink,” Princess phones and the price of Manhattan rentals.

The storyline, when the honeymoon is over, works as well today as it did in 1963, and probably since men and women started living together as couples.

It’s a cold February, but for Corrie and Paul Bratter, the heat is still on the day after their honeymoon at the Plaza, in spite of the radiator not working in their new digs.

Corrie, vivaciously played by Erin Parsons, is unfazed, her desires still burning hot, and her kinetic energy warming her up as she zips around the room.

Eagerly awaiting her man to come home from work, Corrie is anxious for the department store to deliver their furniture. 

Paul is tuckered out when he arrives on scene — not from the six-day honeymoon, nor from his first day back at work in a legal firm, but from the climb to their fifth-floor flat.

Before he catches his breath, his passionate bride smothers him with kisses.

John Rothman does a wonderful job playing Paul. 

Corrie has already buzzed in two visitors, both gasping for air after the five-floor trek: the phone repairman, played by Branden Fetzer, and Lynn Cuny, delivering parcels.

The packages are more gifts from Corrie’s mom, Mrs. Banks, perfectly played by Christine Miller, who has a quiet, boring existence and lives vicariously through her only child.

Bordering on heart seizure after the climb, she claims to be “just droppin’ by” en route to her New Jersey home.

Corrie sends her hubby off to buy cocktail fixings, and the burnt-out Paul returns with gossip about every tenant in the building, a neighbor in the store having given him an earful.

Shortly after Mrs. Banks’ exit there’s a rap at the door. It’s Victor Velasco, the most notorious of these tenants, smoothly played by Don Dallmann, with a peculiar request. 

The skylight that plays a significant role in the story took some ingenuity to portray without placing it on the ceiling. The view of Manhattan’s famous skyline viewed through the glass completed the sense that this is, indeed, the Big Apple.

Paul is less than enthusiastic about their new dwelling, having rented it sight unseen, but Corrie bubbles over with pleasure as she envisions the fashionable place for young adults she will create.

Her outgoing nature contrasted with the serious Paul sets the tone of this tale.

Paul, the voice of reason, finally loses his cool at the climax, when Corrie gives him the cold shoulder and icy responses, infuriating him with her unreasonable attitude.

Because none of the three young cast members had seen the 1967 movie starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, it freed them up to portray fresh characters, under the excellent direction of the highly experienced Brent Keast.

Although most of the packed house at the Pewter Plough Playhouse during the Champagne opening July 5 had likely seen the movie in theaters or on television, they seemed surprised by the events as they roared with laughter throughout this delightful romantic comedy.

The audience even spontaneously started singing the refrain during the only music, Petula Clark’s “Downtown” from 1964.

IF YOU GO

"Barefoot in the Park"
Pewter Plough Playhouse, 824 Main St., Cambria
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 10
$16
927-3877 or www.pewter ploughplayhouse.org

Contact Lee Sutter at sutterlee@hotmail.com.

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