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Barefoot in the Park

Neil Simon's 1963 comedy gets a charming revival at the recently reopened Bucks County Playhouse. logo
Lee Aaron Rosen and Virginia Veale
in Barefoot in the Park
(© Mandee Kuenzle)
Aside from a minor spat between newlyweds, nothing much of dramatic pull happens in Neil Simon's comedy, Barefoot in the Park, which means the three-act play demands sheer charm to have any effect at all. Fortunately, that's precisely what's on display in the current revival at the recently reopened Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania, where the show first played nearly 50 years ago.

As Simon's early hit gets underway, the six-day-hitched couple, lawyer Paul Bratter (Lee Aaron Rosen) and wife Corie (Virginia Veale) are moving into a fifth-floor walk-up on Manhattan's East 48th Street, and awful things immediately begin to happen: The furniture they've ordered is late being delivered; the bathroom has a leak, and there's a gaping hole in their skylight--with snow forecast.

Moreover, Corie's widowed mother Ethel (Candy Buckley) arrives unannounced, as does bohemian upstairs tenant Victor Velasco (Jonathan Hadary), who's behind in his rent and needs to climb out of their bedroom window to reach his aerie.

In the next two acts, Corie realizes Paul actually needs to do his legal work at home and doesn't quite have time to enjoy the madcap things -- like walking barefoot in the park -- that she sees as proof their love hasn't congealed. Also deeming it a good idea to pair her well-heeled New Jersey-based mom with impoverished man-of-the-world Victor, Corie arranges a night out for the four of them that goes awry -- and which leads to the minor-league bicker fest that plagues Corie and Paul through much of the third act.

Under Sheryl Kaller's carefully honed direction, the expert performers succeed at making certain that Corie's breathy innocence registers as endearing rather than annoying, Paul's young-man-on-the-rise forthrightness and intermittent frustration pay off, Ethel's conflicted mothering instincts are comically on display, and Victor's stock neighbor isn't so obviously stock. James Noone's dreamy set and Lindsay Jones' 1960s-hits-laden sound design also contribute happily to the proceedings.

Okay, Barefoot in the Park can seem as dated as its reference to an Eldorado-5 telephone number. Fewer of today's women get all aglow repeating their married names or aren't aware that current economic realities should get them thinking about landing their own jobs. But likeability still has its effect, as is proven by this visit to the Park.


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