BWW Review: LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS at Ridgefield Theater Barn
On Friday, September 6, I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Simon's comedy LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT. This amazing cast, under director Michael Ferrara manages to successfully maximize every line and motion. Whether the line or movement needs to be emphasized or whether it is more comedic if delivered casually, everything they do works!
The set provides a realistic looking view of the inside of an apartment with an entrance to a bathroom, an entrance to a closet, an entrance to a kitchen, and an entrance to the apartment hallway. The apartment contains a sofa that folds out to a bed, and two tables. It also has a window with blinds.
Duane Lanham excels in the leading role of Barney Cashman, a married man who is looking to have an affair, despite being married to a woman he considers gentle, kind, and decent. His reasons for desiring the affair seem to be motivated merely by lust and curiosity. While this central protagonist's main goal is indecent, the audience gets to have a lot of fun seeing the comic mishaps that interfere with him achieving his goal. We find ourselves rooting against the central protagonist achieving his goal, both for moral reasons, and for the high humor content that comes with his failures. This is a rare situation in theater, but presented effectively.
Duane Lanham has excellent stage chemistry with all three of the actresses who he individually interacts with, all three of whom were wonderful in their roles, characters that never interact with each other, but all act one to one with Barney, each in one of the three acts.
Paulette Layton portrays Elaine, a married woman who consents to meet Barney for what would be a double affair. Barney wants conversation, first, but Elaine wants to get right to it, while also speaking with cold sarcasm and a biting disregard for getting to know each other, which leads to uncomfortable feelings from Barney. Elaine badly wants a cigarette, but Barney has none. The situation is complicated by the fact that it is set in Barney's mother's apartment, with his mother slated to return in less than two hours.
In the second act, Kate Patton portrays Bobbi Michele who also has agreed to meet Barney in his apartment. In Bobbi's case, however, Bobbi is completely naïve to the fact that Barney had intended the situation to be a sexual encounter. Bobbi is rather opposite of Elaine in that Bobbi wants to constantly talk, nonchalantly revealing herself to be more and more psychotic with every personal story she tells.
In the third and final act, Linda Seay portrays Jeanette, a seriously depressed married woman who with her husband are friends with Barney and his wife. Jeanette, however, has agreed to meet Barney in Barney's mother's apartment with plans of what would be a double affair. Her constant pessimistic outlook on life and negative view towards people in general turn the situation into a conversation that Barney really doesn't feel like having. His attitude, at this point, has very much shifted from his approach with Elaine.
Coupled with some physical slapstick humor, this show had the entire audience in this packed house laughing all throughout.
For mature audiences, I highly recommend LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS which is scheduled to continue to run at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT, through Saturday, September 28, 2019. For times and tickets, please go to Tickets.