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Barefoot in the Park: Oxford Playhouse
Neil Simon’s ‘breakthrough’ comedy Barefoot in the Park remains well-known for the 1967 film version starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford but is revived with surprising infrequency on the stage. ‘Surprising’ because it is a first-class play — well-crafted, witty and true-to-life, to the extent that any stage comedy can be expected to be so.
More suitable fare could hardly be found for the — what shall I say? — mature theatregoers who largely make up the Oxford Playhouse audience, for this is drama that plays shamelessly to the middle-aged. Its message is that you’re still young at 50-plus, while the youngsters — bless ’em! — must ever work hard at the lessons of life.
The setting is a freezing apartment on the fifth floor of a liftless New York tenement block into which are moving Connie and Paul Bratter (Faye Castelow and Dominic Tighe), six days after their wedding. The exhaustion folk experience climbing there, incidentally, while certainly funny, is nevertheless hardly credible in all cases. The fit-looking telephone repair man (David Partridge), for instance, must be scaling such heights all the time.
Paul is a tyro lawyer with an eye on the big time, clearly something of the ‘stuffed shirt’ we shall later hear Connie calling him. She is from the zany school of New York gals — spontaneous, prone to instant enthusiasms and dislikes.
Hardly a women, you might think, to have been raised by the straitlaced, home-permed, mother (Maureen Lipman, who also directs) we are shortly to meet. But is mum really that sort? An encounter with the batty and impecunious gourmet Hungarian (Oliver Cotton) from the attic above looks set to reveal another side to her character.
The foursome dinner he arranges at an Albanian restaurant has repercussions, too, for Paul and Corrie in the blazing row that erupts when they return home after injudicious quantities of ouzo.
Until Saturday. 01865 305305 (www.oxfordplayhouse.com)