The Play-Goer: Twin Beach Players’ Barefoot in the Park

Join Neil Simon and local talent for this lovely and ­nostalgic stroll

photo courtesy of Twin Beach Players: Newlyweds Paul Bratter (Justin McCright) and Cory (Abigail Thibeault, right) with Corie’s mother (Lindsay Haas) delightfully illustrate how combining two lives in marriage can be a tricky business.

 Spring has been dragging its feet across the region, but it’s sprung in Twin Beach Players’ production of Barefoot in the Park. Neil Simon’s lighthearted 1960s’ comedy about the first days of marriage between a free spirited bride and a buttoned-up groom is charming and full of laughs. This smart and masterfully written script sets up silly and wonderful situations fueled by lots of love — and too much Ouzo. 

         Newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter (Abigail Thibeault and Justin McCright) have rented their first home. Corie is joyfully settling despite the hole in the skylight and the parade of guests stumbling through the door. Starting the grins are Robert Sebo as the helpful and friendly telephone repairman and briefly seen deliveryman Adam Dove.

         Each subsequent character, having traipsed up five flights of stairs, staggers into the tiny flat ready to collapse, only to come face to face with the perky and upbeat Corie, whose newly wedded bliss can’t be dampened. That is until an adventurous evening out with her new husband, her mother (Lindsay Haas) and zany and rakish neighbor Victor Velasco (Frank Antonio), delightfully illustrates how combining two lives can be a tricky business.

         The set is designed by Frank Antonio, Cathy Diggle and Rachel Cruz and lit by Melissa Nikolaus. A simple 1960s’ one-room flat complete with abstract art and mini-kitchenette, it makes every adult well beyond their starter home reminisce. A happy ’60s’ soundtrack hums in the background. I hoped to also see fashions of the era. Designer Dawn Dennison missed an opportunity with some of the costumes, but my hopes were realized at the sight of the classic period attire of mother-in-law Ethel and neighbor Velasco.

         All the characters prove wacky and lovable in their own way. Justin McCright’s impressive and funny spin as Paul provides a solid foundation for this cast while maintaining the range of the character. Similarly, Antonio captures the stage as the hysterical neighbor Victor Velasco. Having recently returned to acting, Thibeault gives a breezy performance as sweet as her relationship with her mother, the amusing Haas. Simon’s comic set-ups are legendary; here, some of the big laugh moments were rolled over. At other times, I wished director Cathy Diggle had called for some tighter pacing.

         Little things like these fall by the wayside on this lovely and nostalgic stroll Barefoot in the Park.

 

Presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH INC. Playing thru April 22: FSa 8pm, Su 3pm, Twin Beach Players, North Beach Boys & Girls Club, $15 w/discounts, rsvp: www.twinbeachplayers.org.