“Barefoot” and boring, Buena’s play drags


Chrissy Springer


Poster advertisement for Buena High School's production, "Barefoot in the Park". Credit: Buena High School Drama Department.
Poster advertisement for Buena High School’s production, “Barefoot in the Park”. Credit: Buena High School Drama Department.

A door is jammed open by an exhausted bride. Out of breath, she fumbles for a light switch, shivers, and lets out a contented sigh.

Though Buena High School’s production of “Barefoot in the Park” featured first-rate acting, superior set design and excellent staging, the show was bland; lacking energy and creativity.

“Barefoot” is all about the petty marital struggles of a newlywed couple, Corie and Paul Bratter, living in New York, New York.  The show opens to see Corie, played by Cassidy Landers, unpacking boxes to furnish their new apartment, later joined by Paul, played by Andrew Coates.

The only real action that takes place within the first half hour of the play is the installation of a new telephone and the discovery of a hole in the apartment’s skylight. The rest of the show follows a similar pattern; most of the action takes place during one short scene. An hour of exasperating leftovers remains.

Visits from mother-in-law Ethel Banks who was played by Samantha Corbett and eccentric neighbor Victor Velasco, played by Michael Hobbs, spark marital tension; six days into their marriage Corie and Paul have their first fight, in which Corie decides she wants a divorce.

She is upset with Paul because he refused to walk barefoot through the park with her, proving him far too boring for her taste. Insulted, Paul begins the divorce process, but a drunken scandal between Ethel and Victor brings everyone together once again.

Buena’s Drama Department produced the show well. However, the show itself was unimpressive. Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” seemed like a somewhat failed attempt at good humor.  Its few actually amusing lines were harshly overused, while other jokes were cliché and dry. The static characters began to grow irritating over time, and scenes dragged on uneventfully.

The character of Corie Bratter was so saccharinely sweet that it became difficult to distinguish between her emotions. The poor woman appeared to be continually plagued by dire mood swings, much unlike her husband, whose character was ridiculously static unless under the influence.

However, the show was scattered with gems. Most of the dialogue was well delivered by the five cast members; Corbett and Coates shot off line after line flawlessly.

Sets and costumes fit the period well, and the sound and lighting schemes added to the production.

Overall, the overly simplistic plot and already-been-chewed humor of “Barefoot in the Park” was outshone by the skill and talent of the Buena High School Drama Department.

What do you think?