Favorite

‘Barefoot in the Park’ 

The Rep, Oct. 28

Following a successful revival on Broadway earlier this year, “Barefoot in the Park” now gets a winning stage treatment from the Rep. Robert Hupp, the theater's producing artistic director, helms the Neil Simon comedy. It's the director's first stab at legendary playwright's oeuvre, and he's managed to root out all the madcap humor that made the play such a runaway hit when it debuted in 1963.

Still firmly set in the 1960s of party lines and princess phones, mechanical ice-trays and martini shakers, “Barefoot” treads in young love and its pitfalls. Corie, played with effervescent assurance by Whitney Kirk, a Cabot native and former Miss Arkansas, is a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of girl, who's newly married to Paul, a careful, buttoned-down lawyer, acted by soap and stage vet Christian Pedersen. The newlyweds live in a largely dysfunctional fifth story walk-up apartment that leaks snow from the skylight.

If Corie's put-together '60s chic — form-fitting sweaters, color-coordinated headbands and earrings and tapered plaid pants — doesn't instantly put a contemporary viewer to mind of a free-spirit, Kirk brings out her character's joie de vivre with a lot of activity. She stomps. She flails around the apartment. She jumps and wraps her legs around Paul. She streaks up a ladder, and dives, drunkenly, onto the couch. When she's not moving, she's talking, about doing things like ringing doorbells and yelling “Police!” and, yes, running barefoot in the park. Kirk is magnetic in her mania.

Pedersen's Paul comes a little more ready-made. Rangy, in skinny ties and with a part in his blonde hair so neat it seems cultivated from childhood, Pederson is every bit the cautious, by-the-book type. But in his stentorian reading of the character, the actor makes Paul someone who, in protecting the prudent course, is just as willing as Corie to get crazy.

Robert Lydiard, a longtime stage vet, delivers a memorably sly performance as Victor Velasco, the couple's eccentric upstairs neighbor, and Alanna Hammill Newton thrives in the role of Corie's needy mother. As the play progresses, the natural order separates the foursome, with Corie and Victor on one team and Paul and Corie's mother on another, more reluctant, one.

Jason Thompson, a longtime member of the Red Octopus troupe and the drummer in the Reds, turns up for a small, well-played comic role as a telephone repairman, and Steve Marshall, who wrote and produced “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Revenge of the Nerds II” (!), does admirably in a bit part as a delivery man.

The entirety of the play happens in the apartment, and longtime set designer Mike Nichols does a marvelous job bringing to life the subtle deficiencies of the apartment (drip marks from the room's peach and avocado green walls sully the molding and the characters must shimmy their way through a narrow entry to their bedroom). The era, too, is presented with care. Mid-century modern coffee tables sit in front of kaleidoscope-patterned furniture, and Chinese lanterns cover the light fixtures.

If, ultimately, the pitfalls of love seem little more than bumps in the road, the play doesn't suffer for lack of conflict. This is one of those simple, essential comedies called classic for a reason.

Lindsey Millar
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Fritz Brantley

  • He talks, and talks, the talk

    A fellow posted an old newspaper article on his blog about a Mike Huckabee speech to a religious group in 1998. A friend faxed the article to me, then called to ask if I’d yet read it, which I had.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • The incredible shrinking Huckabee

    Plus: COPS!
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Trump proposes an unconstitutional ban on flag burning, revoking citizenship

    Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, this morning made a public statement, via Twitter, that the flag burning should be disallowed by law: "there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Theater Reviews

  • Standout acting

    In romantic 'Bridges.'
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Life during wartime

    The Rep updates Homer with 'An Iliad.'
    • Mar 3, 2016
  • A modern Pan

    "Peter and the Starcatcher" adds a modern flair to the Peter Pan story.
    • Jan 28, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Woeful

    • If the UA could get the SEC to stop all games if at any time…

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Woeful

    • The Mizz loss was worse than getting beat by Louisiana-Moron

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Fear and wonder

    • this is real take it serious,my name is Caroline Smith from usa, who will believe…

    • on November 30, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation