Wednesday January 17th 2018

“Last of The Red Hot Lovers”

To most theater “buffs”, just hearing the name Neil Simon, brings a smile to their face. His great comedic touch was amazing in its time, and despite the years, some of the stories are still relevant in our very different world. While some of his plays have withstood time well, I , for one, do not think that the “Last of The Red Hot Lovers” and its theme continues to have the same meaning that it did back in the 1960’s. In fact, I was a bit surprised to see that Oil Lamp Theater, one of my favorite little storefronts would bring this play to its intimate space in Glenview, but they did and my job is to inform you as to what they have put on their stage.

Despite the play not withstanding the years, I do have to say that they bring a sparkling production to their small stage. The story is about a man. Barney Cashman ( a superb performance by Dennis Schnell, who many might recall from his appearance in “Bleacher Bums” several years ago at this space) a married man who is having what used to be referred to as the “7 year-itch”, and despite having a great wife, three adorable kids and a great business feels that he is missing some of what life is supposed to be- romance.

“Lovers” is done in three acts, with each one offering Barney a chance to grab the brass ring that passed him by on the merry-go-round of life. The first act takes place on a late afternoon in December . Barney uses his mother’s apartment in Manhattan for each of his trysts. In the first act, we meet Elaine ( deftly handled by Wendy Hayne), a married woman who is seeking something special. Elaine is everything that Barney doesn’t like ( she smokes, coughs and is loud), but he is seeking the adventure of someone other than the woman he grew up with and then married. He wants to have an affair in the worst way.  Barney needs to taste the fruit of a different tree, or so he thinks. Despite all the foreplay, verbal, not physical, nothing happens between these two people.

In the second act, which is the following August, we return to the same apartment, as Barney’s mother is always gone on the same days for the same several hours. He has learned a little from his first failures. He now has a selection of alcoholic beverages and several brands of smokes, just in case. His new young lady is Bobbi ( the adorable Lara Dohner), a would-be singer/actress, who he met in the park and having lent her some cab fare, she made the date to meet him and bring back the money. Bobbi is far different from anyone Barney has encountered in his life and while she has some amazing stories to tell, they never do anything more than smoke some pot together and get high.

The third and last of Barney’s adventures takes place a month later, when Barney is back at Mother’s place to meet with Jeanette ( the very sultry, but serious Whitney Minarik ). Jeanette is married to one of his friends and a few nights earlier had expressed interest in getting closer with Barney. In his mind, he was finally going to be the “Red-hot Lover” he knew he was meant to be. For this session, he brought champagne and music. This was the night! Turns out Jeanette has a lot on her mind, and  the two of them spend most of the afternoon exploring who they are and where their lives are going.

For Barney, each encounter is different fromwhat he had anticipated and hoped for, and for each woman, their own conflicts spill out into his life and his desires. Smoothly directed by Josh Johnson, this dated material works due to the strength of the cast assembled and their deep understanding of the characters they are portraying. This is a comedy and even the serious material that Simon brings to the table has some comic touches as directed and played. Let’s face it, we all need to laugh at some of the struggles we deal with on a daily basis. This play helps.

“”Last Of The Red Hot Lovers” will continue through February 25th

Performances are:

Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 3:00pm


Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 847-834-0738

Tickets are  $35 and students $20. Oil Lamp Theater is a unique space located at 1723 Glenview Road in Glenview. They have free parking adjacent to the theater and some spaces in front on the street. The theater offers complimentary cookies and soft drinks, candy and nuts and if you desire, bring a bottle of wine and they will open and pour for you. The space is intimate, the people friendly and the performances delightful. Oil Lamp is an experience you will enjoy.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “”Last of The Red Hot Lovers”.

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