BAREFOOT IN THE PARK

by Neil Simon

A scene from Barefoot In The Park

Photo: Joe Brown

Tue 12 - Sat 16 February 2019 at 7.30pm
The Retro Room, Vintage Retreat, Lower Harding Street, Northampton NN1 2JL


CAST & CREW

Paul Bratter Aaron McKenzie
Corrie Bratter Ruth Simone Sherry
Victor Velascoe Steve While
'Mom' Ethel April Pardoe
Harry Pepper Ben Clark
Delivery Guy David Pardoe

Director Emma Robson
Stage Manager / Sound
Emmi Fortune
Lighting Ella Drake
Set Construction
Mark Mortimer
Costumes Clare Brittain
Box Office
Rob Kendall, Sue Howes
Poster Design Tamsyn Payne
Programme Design Megan Lucas

SEE ALSO:

REVIEW: 'Toasty inside'

Words: Mairead Kearins | Masque Theatre member
Pictures: Joe Brown

In the week of VaIentine’s Day, I found myself making my way to a unique performing space next to a vintage shop on the edge of Northampton town centre.

Whilst there, I was reminded that nothing beats a Neil Simon penned romantic comedy for making me feel all toasty inside!

First of all, I have to mention the venue. Making its debut as a performance space for Masque Theatre, The Vintage Retreat had such a lovely atmosphere, particularly as the decor looked fitting for the performance. I hope it’s a space that Masque make more use of, as it would be a wonderful addition to the spaces we already have. It would especially be great for period pieces set in a similar era to Barefoot in the Park.

I loved how the music was used in the production, with classics from The Beach Boys to Burt Bacharach playing from the moment you entered The Vintage Retreat to the moment you left. With the great venue and the brilliant use of music, I feIt like I’d been swept up into the 1960s.

Emma Robson (the director) is to be congratulated for directing her first full-Iength production. She chose a wonderful play in Neil Simon’s take on a romantic comedy and brought together a brilliant cast to perform it. It was a great creative collaboration between the cast and the crew and it truly created magic on the stage. I have rarely seen a period piece that has a story that is still relevant in modern society, and the team brought it together perfectly.

I thought that the entire cast were phenomenal and there wasn’t any weak links. A special mention has to go to Aaron Mackenzie and Ruth Simone Sherry for their charming performances as newlyweds Paul and Corrie. As an audience, we got taken on a journey through their whirlwind romance.

This was particularly shown through their main argument scene, as we got to see how different they really are as people; Paul as the stuffed-shirt lawyer and Corrie as the spontaneous romantic bride. The energy between them was electric and they had believable chemistry.

April Pardoe was excellent as always as Corrie’s overbearing mother Ethel. Her comic timing was impeccable and she brought the pessimistic matriarch to life in such a way that the role could have been written for her. It was an absolute joy to see.

A scene from Barefoot In The Park

Similarly, Steve While brought the oddball neighbour Victor Velascoe to life with a lot of charm. He always had a cheeky grin on his face and had a great personality that flowed throughout. You couldn’t help but be charmed by Pardoe and While, especially when nichi was involved.

Completing the cast, and both making their stage debuts for Masque, Ben Clark and David Pardoe were great as Harry Pepper and the Delivery Guy respectively. They were both great at providing humour to the play, as well as setting the initial tone to the play. This was shown at the very beginning of the show when we learnt that Paul and Corrie’s new apartment was at the top of five flights of stairs, and a stoop.

A scene from Barefoot In The Park

To conclude, I loved the choice of production. It was perfect for this time of the year with romance in the air. The cast told the story wonderfully and The Vintage Retreat was the perfect venue.

I think some of the transitions between scenes were a bit lengthy, but I take into account that there was a lot of set to move and it meant we got some great music to listen to. This is just me nit-picking because I thought the production was really good.

I loved watching Barefoot in the Park and future productions could take note of this for comedic timing and theatrical Joy.

A scene froom Barefoot In The Park

PREVIEW: 'An absolute delight of a play'

Emma Robson | director

Meet Corrie and Paul, newly-weds who are starting life in a teeny-tiny one-room sixth-floor apartment.

How these two found each other and fell in love is a mystery.

Paul, a stuffed shirt lawyer, is the complete opposite to his spontaneous and romantic bride, Corrie.

New direction and a new venue promises a quirky take on a delightfully funny play about dreams, disaster, nutty neighbours and living with a hole in your skylight.

A must-see for vintage comedy fans and love-birds alike.

Flyer for Barefoot In The Park

Masque Theatre's production is directed by Emma Robson. Emma has also directed Ways and Means (2017).