Step Up production’s of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” throws the free spirited Corie (Alex Fisher) and conservative lawyer Paul (Colin Sphar) together in the unfortunately sticky covenant of marriage. After a marathon honeymoon spent in a hotel suite, the business of actually settling down and living together proves slippery. Not helping things is Corie’s bored and widowed mother, Ethel Banks (Sarah Minton), or their eccentric neighbor, Victor Velasco (Michael Pacas), who claims to be a fallen cosmopolitan European, but currently lives in the apartment building’s attic and is delinquent on his rent. Corie’s solution of setting Velasco and her Mother up together turns out well for the two of them, but threatens to send her marriage to Paul over the edge.
The hilarity of Simon’s script is captured well by Michael Driscoll’s natural blocking in which Neil Simon’s characters interact on a high floor of a walk-up apartment, convincingly designed by William Boles with lighting (Michael Stanfill) and sound design (Jeffrey Levin) that produces a storm and snow in exterior of a large window window in which more than one character will get caught. Randolph Alex Fisher, Colin Saphar, and Sara Minton all captured their character’s pathologies remarkably well. Sphar looks and sounds like the serious, lawyer, ambitious but not towards any larger purpose. Sphar is a free-spirited, care-free, woman who mistakes austerity for fun, and Minton, a mother highly overinvolved more from boredom than boundary issues—although I wouldn’t wholly discount those. A sober Randolph Johnson is the telephone man: an ambassador from the world of sanity.
However, the most eccentric character, Victor Velasco, felt rather underwhelming in the hands of Pacas who conveyed a natural, imposing, dignity on which he seemed wholly to rely, which is certainly part of the character, but never managed to overshadow it with Velasco’s penury, eccentricities, and dubious credentials. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and convincing adaptation of this light-hearted comedy. ‘Barefoot in the Park ‘ runs through November 1st, 2015 at the Athenaeum Theatre located at 2936 N. Southpart Avenue., Chicago. Productions are Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Regular Tickets are $24. Students and Senior Tickets are $17 with a current ID, and there are $20 rush tickets available one hour before curtain. They can be purchased at www.stepupproductions.org or by calling The Athenaeum box-office at 773-935-6875.
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