I have always been slightly weary of a director who elects to direct themselves – however, luckily, Maureen Lipman had a (curiously unpublicised) co-director in Peter Cregeen for this production of Barefoot in the Park.
Arguably one of Broadway’s greatest comedies of the 60s, Barefoot in the Park effectively launched the careers of both Neil Simon and Robert Redford with the tale of Paul and Corrie Bratter’s first two weeks of marriage. Set in a fifth floor apartment in downtown New York, which cumulates in a perfectly constructed final act leaving plenty of questions unanswered.
Faye Castelow shines in a carefully balanced portrayal of Corrie, as she returns to her training city (Oxford School of Drama) – surely a name to keep an eye out for the future. Dominic Tighe’s career hardly needs a leg-up (having recently finished a stint with Propeller); however his nervy Paul will do no harm.
Maureen Lipman excels as Corrie’s frustrated mother in this richly comical production, which featured the full spread of sparks of directorial genius with some very clunky moments. I am tempted to believe the two directors had moments when they were trying to go down very different paths with this production.
Credit must be given to Tim Goodchild’s extremely functional set, managing to achieve the achingly challenging task of creating a convincingly claustrophobic apartment on a 28ft proscenium arch!
This is a play one could easily describe as timeless; not feeling in the least bit dated at the ripe old age of 49.
- Daniel Whitley