by Tom Holehan

The Neil Simon perennial, “Barefoot in the Park” and Somerset Maugham’s period comedy, “The Circle” share nothing in common except for the weekend I saw them.  The Ivoryton and Westport Country Playhouses are now firmly into summer theatre mode.  You could do worse.

The years have not been kind to “Barefoot in the Park”, Neil Simon’s romantic chestnut about young newlyweds in 1960s Manhattan.  When optimistic Corie (Kathleen Mulready) marries stuff-shirt lawyer Paul (Sean Patrick Hopkins), playwright Simon reveals one of his earliest odd couples as they attempt a new life together in a fifth floor walk-up (the subject of endless running gags).  This 1963 comedy shows its seams with obvious jokes and dated references about Toni Home Permanents and Manhattan rents at $125/month.  Directed by R. Bruce Connelly at a pace that seems more frantic than funny, the cast is appealing even when they work too hard landing the punch lines.  Ms Mulready is certainly lithe and lovely but she also veers more towards the shrill as the play progresses.  Mr. Hopkins fares better and shares a comfortable chemistry with his co-star.

As Corie’s single mom, Katrina Ferguson has some nice moments with the gregarious Buzz Roddy, playing a randy neighbor.  The older couple amuses without pushing the material too hard.  Rachel Reynolds has designed the type of fantasy New York apartment that Neil Simon wrote about for years and Vivianna Lamb’s costuming captures the style of the period without drawing undue attention to it.         “Barefoot in the Park” plays through June 26 at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  For further information call 860.767.7318 or visit: www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company.  He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com.  His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.


* Contact Us * Designed by Rokoco Designs * © 2008 CCC *