In matters of the heart, do you believe that opposites attract or that birds of a feather flock together? Neil Simon's romantic comedy, Barefoot in the Park, takes a playful look into lives of newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter as they begin to understand the complications that can arise after saying, "I do."
Paul and Corie have been married for only six days when they move into a fifth-floor brownstone apartment in New York City. Free-spirited Corie has spent the day painting the apartment while waiting for the new furniture to be delivered. She simply loves the shabby apartment and can't wait for Paul, a "stuffed-shirt" new attorney, to see their first home. Paul, however, can only see problem after problem with the overpriced apartment such as a bedroom with room for only a twin sized bed, a leaky closet, no bathtub, a hole in the skylight and no heat (with snow in the forecast). Adding to the newlyweds' problems is an unexpected visit from Corie's lonely mother and an eccentric neighbor who must travel through their bedroom to reach his apartment in the attic. After only a week, the couple is contemplating divorce.
Samantha Menning (Corie) and Robert Tople (Paul) have a chemistry on stage that conveys a familiarity to any married couple, whether married six days or 60 years. Both actors are dynamite in their rapid-fire exchange during a heat-of-the-moment argument. In the end, Paul lets loose with a memorable performance in a controlled drunken stupor.
Newcomer Holly Cousins (Mother) aptly captures the quirky behavior of Corie's sometimes flaky parent. Matt Bailey (Delivery Man) makes use of some great physical comedy to bring laughter without ever saying a word.
Devin Carey (Telephone Repairman) adds to the laughs when he arrives out of breath after climbing the five flights of stairs (six if you count the stoop) to install a beige Princess telephone. He offers great customer service reminding Corie if she has any problems to remember his name and "don't call me!"
Veteran actor Al Jacklin (Victor Velasco) continues the fast-paced comedy by bringing cosmopolitan flair to the unworldly young couple. His introduction of kinichi, an exotic appetizer from a 2,000-year-old recipe, evokes hilarious laughter. It is always a pleasure to watch Jacklin play the suave sophisticate and he delivers well in the role.
There were a few noticeable generational divides between jokes that referenced the 1960s. Small things like a Princess telephone or a Toni home permanent may be outside the experience of patrons under 40.
Seasoned director Terri Jacklin's bare set at curtain rise perfectly sets the tone for the chaos that is to come. In my memory, this is the first time ACT has integrated a skylight into the set and it is central to much of the action and meaning in the play.
Simon's longest running hit on Broadway is certainly a hit locally 55 years later. This universal, funny, well-directed play reminds us that as young people, we all enjoy exuberant and sometimes ridiculous activities such as running 'barefoot through the park.' Get your tickets today and see if true love prevails when opposites attract.
The show by Area Community Theatre has performances Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre. Tickets are on sale at the theatre or more information is available at 996-9137 or www.mitchellact.org.