Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Cotuit Center For The Arts

A look at Neil Simon's view of 1960s Manhattan

By: Apr. 19, 2023
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Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Cotuit Center For The Arts

Photo: Neil Simon's characters lead the trip back to the 1960s. Pictured here, left to right: Marcus Liuzzi as Victor, Liz Liuzzi as Mrs. Banks, Troy Davies as Paul and Anna Botsford as Corie.

This is one of dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker Neil Simon's tongue-in-cheek looks at life in mid-century Manhattan. It's set in 1963, and focuses on Corie and Paul (Troy Davies), young Manhattanites who, at the outset, have been married for all of six days.

As Corie, Anna Botsford is bubbly and breezy and over-the-moon about residing in this shiny new state of matrimony. Proving once again that opposites attract, Davies plays Paul as a serious new lawyer who is taking the expression "settling down" quite literally. Holding tight to his new law degree, he is intent on climbing to the top of the ladder of success. He wears a suit and tie throughout and, with his somewhat stodgy demeanor, it's hard to imagine him wearing anything else. (Maybe he would change into golf clothes, but that's about it.)

The couple's struggle to meld their wildly divergent personalities is of course at the center of the comedic action, with the two leads expert at milking their lines and actions for laughs. On the one hand, there's Corey sashaying around the apartment holding a black negligee to her chest. Then there's Paul, who walks into the apartment for the first time, looks up at a hole in the skylight and exclaims, "I'll be shoveling snow in my living room."

The action all takes place in the couple's postage-stamp-sized apartment on the top floor of a midtown brownstone, which becomes one of the comedic elements in the show. As Corey's mother (Liz Liuzzi) struggles to make the climb up the six flights Paul says, "Your mother is at camp three and making the final assault." And when the matriarch finally makes it to the top floor she says to her daughter, "When you were a little girl you said you wanted to live on the moon. I didn't know you were serious." (As any Neil Simon fan knows, these one- and two-liners are used to liberally and expertly season all of his shows.)

Spotlight on Supporting Characters

Simon was also expert at creating supporting characters that are distinct and colorful without being caricatures. Liz Liuzzi as Mrs. Banks and Marcus Liuzzi as upstairs neighbor Victor Velassco are the perfect foils, with Liz the (supposedly) staid and traditional matriarch and Marcus the quirky and eccentric aging gigolo. And Bill Farrell as a telephone installer and K. J. Perry as a delivery man are great fun. When Perry's character finally climbs to the apartment, he struggles mightily to breathe, then reaches for a pack of cigarettes.

In that vein, if you're an old film buff you know that in the 1967 film version, Jane Fonda played Corie and Robert Redford Paul, with Mildred Natwick and Mrs. Banks and Charles Boyer as Victor.

Added Touches

The set change between the first and second act is ingenious, with the team making it part of the action. (Tara Galvin is stage manager, with Richard Neal set foreman. And the gigantic skylight-which plays an important role at the end of the show-is testament to the set build team's expertise. (Michael Ernst, Cris Reverdy, Sean McCahill, Bob Loncich, Rich Marciante and Gary Urgonski make up the team)

Go for the sheer fun of the piece. And it's interesting to take this comedic cruise back to the 1960s. For example, the rent for the couple's Manhattan apartment is $125.

The show is 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through April 30. The Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Rd, Cotuit, 508-428-0669, Click Here, tickets: $12.50-$52.50 including fees.


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From This Author - Sue Mellen

Sue Mellen began her writing career as an arts, entertainment and features writer for the Cape Cod Times. She next went on to work in public relations, first for a regional healthcare system, then for... (read more about this author)


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