Hot Summer Nights' Barefoot in the Park | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Hot Summer Nights' Barefoot in the Park 

Comedy is for optimists and optimists are for comedy, which is why Barefoot in the Park, Neil Simon's well-worn celebration of young nuptial love, gets produced year in and year out. It tells that most optimistic of species, newlyweds, that making their marriage work requires only some simple compromises and a healthy ant/ grasshopper balance.

As the play ages into its sixth decade, it appeals to old lovers, too, taking them back to a time when Ma Bell sent a technician to install your new phone; when you ate at Schrafft's and watched What's My Line?; and when $125/ month for a walkup apartment in midtown Manhattan was pricey.

Although the play's setting may be dated, its structure is virtually ageless, and the dialogue darts from one comic zinger to the next like a hummingbird to nectar. You're never far away from a laugh line. The current Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy production doesn't do anything radical with Simon's script beyond hiring some dependable summer-stock actors to play it, and that is more than enough to make the play work. It's antic, funny and sweet, and true to itself.

Robbie Gay, who was a lot of fun in the Hot Summer Nights staging of Sylvia last year, played Paul Bratter, the straight man husband, ably. Casey Tuma found the manic quality in his wife's character but was less able to convey Corrie's infectious appeal: She seemed less free-spirited than undermedicated. Even adjusting for an era when people married after brief, superficial courtships, it isn't quite clear why Paul would fall for Corrie. He's the one who leads them out onto the ledge at play's end, but she seems likely to keep them there.

In order to get back through the window into domestic bliss, they'll need to follow their elders' example. Busy bee Corrie pushes her widowed mother into a blind date with Corrie's upstairs neighbor, 58-year-old Victor. Their subsequent wild night culminates in a morning-after scene that Pauline Cobrda and Paul Paliyenko pull off with surprisingly delicate, touching affection. They briefly elope with the play in the last act, and banish the Bratters' puppy love to the backyard. There's a weight and complexity there that only age confers on love. Neil Simon, who was in his mid-30s when he wrote Barefoot in the Park, seems to have understood even then that marriage means never losing your capacity for tenderness, no matter how thick the calluses you build up over the years, and no matter if you're a grasshopper or an ant.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater

Twitter Activity


I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached …

by Aims Arches on A Superlative Adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando Packs Centuries of Insight into a Fleet Eighty Minutes (Theater)

I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly …

by Ryan Oliveira on David Harrower Lives Up to His Name in Blackbird, a Challenging Portrait of Abuse (Theater)

I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in …

by ShellByars on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation