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Barefoot in the Park review at Yvonne Arnaud Guildford

Faye Castelow is perfectly cast as the capricious Corrie Bratter, looking uncannily like a younger Maureen Lipman. Dominic Tighe does well to make her “stuffed shirt” of a husband, who happens to be the most boring character in the play – so dull he won’t go barefoot in the park – worthy of our attention, even when methodically pressing his ties in a heavy dictionary.

Oliver Cotton gets the larger-than-life Victor Velasco just right. Co-director Maureen Lipman is superb as Corrie’s mother, and gives herself two spectacular entrances in the second half, one carried drunk in the arms of her exhausted son-in-law, the other dressed tellingly in Victor’s robe after going missing for the night.

It is astonishing to think that this play will be 50 years old next year. Yet its timeless quality, particularly in this flawless production, makes the anachronism of Mrs Banks’ secret of a happy marriage – “give up a little of yourself to him” – seem quite reasonable. And don’t worry, she brings it down with an impeccably timed, “like two out of every ten couples”.

Lipman and co-director Peter Cregeen also manage to provide light and shade – the argument scene is very tense, the occasional dips into farce well-controlled. But it’s the light comedy that carries the show.

The whole play is performed with such pace, clarity and exquisite timing that you don’t have the opportunity to consider how dated it might be. The critical mauling that greeted the 2006 Broadway revival would surely have been less severe had the critics laughed a little more. What this production has is a lot of laughs.

Production Information

Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, March 28-April 7, then touring until May 12

Author
Neil Simon
Directors
Maureen Lipman, Peter Cregeen
Producer
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Cast includes
Maureen Lipman, Oliver Cotton, Faye Castelow, Dominic Tighe, David Partridge, Hayward Morse
Running time
2hrs 15mins

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