Barefoot in the Park at the Mill At Sonning Theater
It’s the screenplay by Neil Simon (1927-2018) that places the series firmly in a time when a landline phone is a top priority for engineer Harry Pepper (Oliver Stanley) and youngsters like Paul (Jonny Labey) and Corrie. (Hannah Pauley) only seem to have gotten married because that’s what people did – just living together without being married would be ‘living in sin’. The decor and costumes, however, hardly evoke the 60s, or even the time of year. The skylight of Paul and Corrie’s top-floor New York apartment has a hole in it, but Corrie in particular is dressed for a summer picnic.
The title of the piece is derived from an apparent literal practice by Corrie, but also hints at what she would like Paul to do, figuratively speaking. He is a lawyer, conservatively dressed and conservatively minded, the polar opposite of Corrie’s somewhat carefree and highly erratic disposition. Some of the punchlines don’t quite have the force they would have had a generation ago: Corrie practically yelling, “I’m not hysterical!during a fit of hysteria makes you want to roll your eyes rather than turn around laughing.
The ending is rather abrupt, and while it’s a good thing for a piece not to tie every knot so neatly there’s nothing left for the imagination, it’s unclear what happens to any of the characters. Ethel Banks (Rachel Fielding), Corrie’s mother, gets along well with Paul and Corrie’s downstairs neighbor, Victor Velasco (James Simmons). Their relationship, if you can call it that, is in some ways another version of Paul and Corrie’s, one strained and the other throwing caution to the wind, so the play shows that opposites collide. attract twice.
Theoretically, this is an ideal café-théâtre production. It’s not overly complicated, even if that’s because it doesn’t go deep enough into the themes it explores. It’s also not too long and leaves the audience wanting more, which is always better than the alternative. The Mill at Sonning offers a cooked dinner, served buffet style, allowing guests to pile their plate as high as they wish, although I would recommend not overdoing it with the sauce unless you be ready for the challenge of balancing your plate in such a way. a way that nothing spills before it gets to your table. Before the show, during intermission and after the show, a number of patrons commented that they ate significantly more than they normally would. There is also a dessert menu, with some flexibility if nothing appeals to you.
As far as the show goes, a two hour runtime seemed longer than it was, because the dialogue is, from what I can gather, meant to be delivered at pace, with the mind driven by lively and lively exchanges. In this production, the pace is far from lukewarm, but it needed more edginess to be fully engaging. Perhaps the music, before the show and between scenes, could have included recognizable 1960s melodies to bolster the setting as well.
Comment by Chris Omaweng
They play newlyweds Paul and Corie, excited to start their life together in their new apartment in Manhattan.
It may be small and a six-story climb, the heater may be broken, and snow may fall through the skylight, but nothing can undo their newlywed bliss. Paul is a right-handed lawyer and Corie a romantic free spirit; nevertheless, opposites attract and the two are crazy about each other. Corie decides to set up her conservative widowed mother with their eccentric, bohemian neighbor – Mr. Velasco. A wild night ensues, one that highlights just how different Corie and Paul are. The young couple must learn to accept and embrace their differences as they learn that marriage is not an easy walk in the park – shoes or no shoes.
The cast is completed by Rachel Fielding, James Simmons, Oliver Stanley.
Creative Team: Director Robin Herford. Scenographer Michael Holt. Costume designer Natalie Titchener.
Bare feet in the park
by Neil Simon
directed by Robin Herford
The Windmill of the Sonning Theater
Reading RG4 6TY
Ticket office: 0118 969 8000