Show mixes physical comedy with one-liners
NILES — A broken skylight isn’t the only fracture newlyweds Paul and Corie face.
Six days into their marriage, both are starting to wonder if the only thing they have in common is a physical attraction. Corie is a free spirit who embraces the unknown and loves every quirky detail of their tiny New York apartment, including the aging lothario who lives in the building’s attic.
Paul is career-oriented, focused on his new job as a lawyer, and the main thing he notices about the apartment (beyond the broken skylight) is the five flights of stairs he has to walk up each time to get there (six, if you count the stoop, and everyone except Corie counts the stoop).
Think of Paul and Corie of “Barefoot in the Park” as Neil Simon’s original “Odd Couple.”
“Barefoot” made its Broadway debut more than 50 years ago, and there are moments in its dealings with male-female relationships that show its age. But Trumbull New Theatre’s production deftly displays why Simon might be the most commercially successful playwright of the back half of the 20th century.
Simon’s plays are known for their one liners and dialogue-driven comedy, but there’s a real physicality to the way director Robert Spain stages the show. Corie (Sarah Puhala) and Paul (Brian Suchora) are demonstrative in showing their affection with each other in the first acts and equally demonstrative in expressing their frustrations with each other later.
Suchora probably will have quite a collection of bruises after three weeks of wrestling with sheets, falling off couches, etc. Both of the leads throw themselves into the roles physically, which adds to the enjoyment. And Suchora and Puhala make for a convincing couple.
Spain and the cast maximize the comedic potential of the production at every turn. Suchora gets as many laughs for his reactions as he does for the dialogue. Jenny Long, a talented comedic performer, is a treat as Corie’s mother, who gets fixed up with that oddball neighbor, Victor Velasco, hilariously played by Bill Finley as a man with a taste for the ladies and exotic foods.
Wayne Morlock has a couple of nice scenes as a telephone installer who offers a few bits of advice along with technical expertise. And Gary Roddy has maybe a minute of stage time as a delivery man, but he wrings every possible laugh out of his brief appearance. As the old expression goes, “There are no small parts …,” and Roddy nailed his.
And kudos to the crew, which quickly transformed the empty apartment in the first act to the the couple’s fully furnished home during the first intermission.