Regional Reviews: San Diego
Barefoot in the Park
To its credit, Mr. Simon's play still feels fresh in 2018. This production, directed by Director Jessica Stone, is set in the original period, though, which allows the designers to have some fun. Tobin Ost's scenic design and David Israel Reynoso's costume design, complemented by Amanda Zieve's lighting design, have delightful surprises in store for audiences, and Lindsay Jones' sound design includes perfect popular songs to introduce each of the three acts (the show runs two hours and twenty minutes, including two intermissions).
The plot is simple, almost formulaic, but the laughs are genuine and well earned. Newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter (Kerry Bishé and Chris Lowell) have rented a fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan. Corie's mother, Mrs. Ethel Banks (Mia Dillon), is still sending daily wedding gifts even though the honeymoon is over. They also have a colorful neighbor named Victor Velasco (Jere Burns).
In true rom-com fashion, Corie and Paul encounter marital difficulties, fight, make up, and even run barefoot in the park during the winter. Meanwhile, Corie decides that her mother and Victor Velasco might be a good match and invites them to dinner, with predictably humorous results (Mr. Simon's secondary characters are often more interesting than his leads).
All the performers inhabit their roles well under Ms. Stone's playful direction. Ms. Bishé and Mr. Lowell don't always seem well matched, but that's the point. As the mother, Ms. Dillon doesn't try to walk away with the show, even though she could easily do so. Mr. Burns actually has the showiest part, but he, too, keeps things appropriately in check. Doing so means that the cast doesn't compete for laughs, which makes for a satisfying evening. Even the two tradesmen who call at the apartment (John Garcia and Jake Millgard) are funny.
For a work receiving its fiftieth anniversary production, Barefoot in the Park surprises with its ability to consider issues that still rile couples and to find humor and pathos in a later-life romance, too. Plus, even though characters may be off-center, they are friendly and easy to like. The Old Globe's production is a summer confection that feels welcome on a warm August evening.
Barefoot in the Park, through September 2, 2018, performs Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 7pm, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre on The Old Globe's Balboa Park campus. Tickets are available by calling 619-23-GLOBE or by visiting www.theoldglobe.org.