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BLOG: Barefoot in the Park - By Lisa Wakely

Barefoot in the Park

"When times are tough, we reach for the sureties of a gentler, funnier, more innocent era, and no-reflects this better than Neil Simon." Director Eoin O Callaghan on his upcoming play Barefoot in the Park.

Wander into the charming world of "Barefoot in the Park," the timeless romantic comedy that has stolen the hearts of audiences since its Broadway debut in 1963. Penned by the legendary American playwright Neil Simon, this hilarious play takes us on a heartwarming journey through the trials and tribulations of newlywed life.

Barefoot in the Park is one of the most beloved comedies of Pulitzer-Prize-winning American playwright Neil Simon. Newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter are excited to begin their life together in their new apartment in New York. It might be small with six flights of stairs, the heating might not work, and snow may fall through the skylight, but nothing can ruin their newlywed bliss. Or can it? Paul is a strait-laced lawyer, and Corie a romantic free spirit; still, opposites attract, and the two are crazy about each other. After a six-day honeymoon, they get a surprise visit from Corie's mother, Ethel Banks, and decide to play matchmaker during a dinner with their eccentric, attic-dwelling neighbour, Victor Velasco, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. A wild night follows, underlining just how different Corie and Paul are. The young couple must learn to accept and embrace their differences as they realise that marriage is not easy. Running 'barefoot in the park' would be a good start…

Although "Barefoot in the Park" has been adapted for film and television, the original play continues to charm and captivate audiences. Its continued success is a testament to the timelessness of Simon's writing and the relatability of its themes. The original production starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley as the married couple was a huge hit and ran for four years and over 1,530 performances. Barefoot in the Park won a Tony Award for Best Direction. In 1967, Paramount Pictures turned the play into a successful film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, directed by Gene Saks.

Born in the Bronx in 1927, Simon grew up during the Depression. Financial strains caused tensions in his parent's marriage, and Simon found escape at the cinema, with comedic films in particular. Laughter and comedy served as an emotional outlet for him, as they do in his semi-autobiographical plays. His plays are often set in New York and revolve around relatable problems that everyday people face, especially in their personal relationships. In his introduction to the collection 'The Comedy of Neil Simon,' the playwright wrote of an incident in his young marriage where his wife, Joan, hurled a frozen veal chop at him because words could no longer express the passion of a bitter argument. "A faint flicker of a smile crossed my face," he wrote. Standing outside of himself, Simon saw the ridiculousness of the situation. Such a moment would fit perfectly in Barefoot, where the two newlyweds, true to times, don't really know each other yet – and argue about their differences.

Director of the play, Eoin O Callaghan, shared his secret to putting on a successful play. When the rehearsal period is limited, he chooses to give his actors as much freedom as is constructive and purposeful. In my mind, that allows actors the space and creativity to explore the character and themes they are portraying. Asked what he would like the audience to take away from this production. Joy, laughter and a renewed sense that though life is short, comedy is eternal.

Barefoot in the Park

Take a chance and join the laughter and joy of "Barefoot in the Park." You won't regret stepping into this enchanting world of newlywed life.

Tickets are on sale now and can be booked here:

The Kings Speech

The McGrigor Hall, Frinton Summer Theatre - 18th July - 22nd July

Tues - Sat 7:30pm | Sat 2:30pm

Frinton Summer Theatre Contributor, Lisa Wakely, Writer. Lisa Wakely is a talented writer and performer from Essex. Her passion for writing and teaching performing arts is matched only by her adventurous spirit, which includes heart-pumping activities like skydiving and wing walking - all for raising money for charity. She's a true force to be reckoned with. Her boundless energy and unwavering determination are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

If you liked the sound of Barefoot in the Park, book Don't Dress for Dinner
Frinton Summer Theatre 2023

If you liked the sound of Barefoot in the Park, you might also be interested in our production of Don't Dress for Dinner, a wildly funny sequel to the Broadway hit Boeing Boeing.

Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress in his charming converted French farmhouse whilst his wife, Jacqueline, is away. Join us for this side-splitting farce. You won't regret it! Tickets are on sale now!

The McGrigor Hall Ticket Prices

Evenings £20-25 | Matinees £18-23

Season Discount - Get 10% off when you book a ticket for each show at The McGrigor Hall.

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