“Barefoot in the Park,” currently playing at Community Players, is a delightful trip back to the early 1960s. Men went to work, women stayed home and New York apartments were tiny (well, that part hasn’t changed).
Neil Simon penned this romantic comedy of dueling newlyweds early in his career. It enjoyed success on Broadway and later in film versions. Simon’s sharp wit and gift for sparkling dialogue shine throughout the show. Director Opal Virtue is on top of how to weave a lot of wacky situations together and pepper them with fun physicality.
Corie (Kayla Blue) and Paul (Dakota McDaniels) have moved into a fifth-floor walk-up, chosen by free-spirited Corie. Buttoned-down Paul, a newly minted lawyer, is less than enthusiastic. In addition to all those stairs, the closet leaks, there’s no bathtub and the broken skylight lets snow filter through. Oh, and the heat doesn’t seem to work. Corie thinks Paul should lighten up. In fact, she wishes he’d run “barefoot in the park” with her.
Occasionally this play points to how far we’ve come since the '60s. For example, there’s this advice from Corie’s mom Ethel (Judy Stroh) on how to be a good wife:
“Make him feel important,” Ethel says. “Give up a little of yourself. If you do that, you’ll have a happy and wonderful marriage — like two out of every 10 couples.”
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Somewhere in their first four chaotic days in the apartment, Corie decides to set up her lonely mother with their zany Albanian neighbor Victor Velasco (Rich Tinaglia). Tinaglia adds a lot of zest. A gem of a scene occurs between him and newly reinvigorated Stroh on the morning after their wild night out on the town.
All the leads do a good job managing the high-energy this show requires. Blue is in perpetual motion. McDaniels is endearing as a stuffed shirt and hilarious when he proves he can get drunk, too.
Jared Cantrell as the telephone repair man and Jay Hartzler as the delivery man prove that even small parts can add a lot to a show.
In the end it’s impossible not to root for this couple as they struggle though the initial stages of married life. Opposites may attract but love is the stuff that binds.