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Barefoot in the Park, by Neil Simon
Don’t miss your last chance to see Barefoot in the Park!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
4.5
Choosing another appropriate show for their intimate theatre space, Button Theatre closes the month of July with Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Bringing together a talented cast and a script that is as timeless as romance, Button Theatre’s production of Barefoot in the Park is a delightful rendition of a classic comedy and comedy at its best.

The cast is headed by Clarke Wolfe as Corie Bratter, the impulsive wife of young attorney Paul, played by Jake Cullens. Wolfe’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for everything from her first phone to her first dinner party in her four (or five) flight walk-up apartment is a great contrast to Cullens’s practical approach to his new life. Wolfe is delightful in her opening scene where she befriends the telephone man, portrayed deftly by Jay Croft. Wolfe’s non-stop energy effectively portrays the excitement of the effervescent bride in her first home; however, she is at her best in the latter half of the show. When Corie is confronted with the results of her impulsive meddling in her mother’s life, the realization of her actions are played by Wolfe with honesty and depth.

Jake Cullens is amazing. His emotional range in playing a character with an emotional range that is almost non-existent is incredible. As the “stuffed-shirt” Paul, Cullens displays the appropriate compulsive tendencies – always wearing his gloves, always folding his muffler, placing his trousers “just so.” Yet, he never allows his character to be just a "fuddy-duddy." Cullens’s nuanced and complex portrayal of the promising young attorney, who can hardly keep up with his young wife’s antics, is alternately hilarious and profound. His timing and physicality are impeccable. From his out-of-breath entrance in Act I to his drunken barefoot walk in Act III, Cullens’s performance is the result of thoughtful preparation and brilliant execution.

Lory Cox is hilarious. Playing the part of Corie’s mother, Cox truly steals the show. With the same wide-eyes as Corie, but with shock instead of excitement in her gaze, Cox’s Ethel is believable both as the mother of this impetuous young woman and as the victim of her daughter’s impulsiveness. Every look, gesture and double entendre reveal the mixture of adoration and affliction she holds for her daughter – all of which combine to make Cox’s performance one of the highlights of the production.

As the mysterious upstairs neighbor Victor Velasco, Jimmy Johnson turns in a strong performance as an aging Casanova. From his accent to his dashing beret, Johnson imbues Victor with a nice contrast between the playboy he pretends to be and the middle aged man, which he is forced to admit, he actually is.

Strong performances and a classic script combine to create an entertaining evening and should not be missed! The show runs one more weekend: July 25th - 27th. Check out http://www.buttontheatre.com/ for ticket info and directions to the theatre. A great date night or family evening, Barefoot in the Park is definitely a show for everyone. Take a break from The Dark Knight and enjoy an evening of laughter and romance.

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