LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS
18/10/2012 - 27/10/2012
Meet Barney Cashman (PETER FEENEY). Barney is a middle-aged restaurant manager who has a very nice married existence. But he’s tired of existing; he wants to live – before it’s too late. Maybe one afternoon of passion could be so exhilarating, so vivid, that the memory alone would sate his desire for more.
Three women, three afternoons, three shots at living in Technicolor. Barney’s paramours are played by JOY BUCKLE who takes on the role of Elaine, a serial adulteress and ranting sex addict; BODELLE DE RONDE plays young pothead psycho Bobbi with ANNA STILLAMAN rounding out the trio in the role of the depressive Jeanette, who also happens to be a friend of Barney’s wife.
Neil Simon is considered one of the finest play and screen writers of comedy in US history and has won more Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer. Last of the Red Hot Lovers is one of 30 plays he has penned and is typical of his New York comedies. It premiered on Broadway in December 1969 and ran for 706 performances.
October 18 – 27
Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna
BOOKINGS Ph: 489 8360 or www.pumphouse.co.nz
Tues – Sat 7.30pm
Sun 21 Oct – 4pm
No Show Monday
A Reserve $30-$35
B Reserve $25-$30
Groups 10+ $28
PETER FEENEY – Barney
JOY BUCKLE – Elaine
BODELLE DE RONDE – Bobbi
ANNA STILLAMAN – Jeanette
Simon's sexual revolution never simple
Review by Paul Simei-Barton 22nd Oct 2012
Ham-fisted bid to try life on the wild side makes for wicked satire
Tadpole Productions’ commitment to bringing professional theatre to the Takapuna Pumphouse comes with the bonus of an unusual selection of plays.
It is surprising that Neil Simon’s vast repertoire is hardly ever staged in New Zealand. He is regarded as America’s most successful playwright and his work will be familiar to local audiences through TV or movie adaptations of Broadway hits such as The Odd Couple and Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers is a Tony Award-winning play from 1969 in which he serves up an ironic view of the sexual revolution as seen through the eyes of a respectable restaurateur who is trying to stave off a mid-life crisis by having a once-in-a-lifetime stab at marital infidelity. [More]
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Real questions identified
Review by Nik Smythe 19th Oct 2012
Tadpole Productions is an initiative that combines expert theatre practitioners with skilled business managers to deliver a slick, polished product – as indeed they have with Neil Simon’s 1969 comedy.
Directed by John Antony, the cast roundly delivers solid, layered performances of a clever script that ultimately subverts any expectation of obvious, gratuitous sex comedy.
Peter Feeney is Barney Cashman, 47 year-old milquetoast nebbish who’s enjoyed twenty three years of predictable, uneventful married life up until the midlife crisis he’s harbouring when we meet him. For such a frustratingly inept would-be Lothario, Barney’s clumsy, pathetic sort of charm is testament to Feeney’s distinctive energy and excellent timing.
As amusing as his hapless conduct is, Barney is, in effect, the straight man to the three successive, strongly comedic female characters, with each of whom he strives to reach beyond his staid existence in the hope of having a meaningfully spontaneous, unpredictable liaison, just once in his life.
Joy Buckle commands the scene with viper-tongued wit as Elaine, a classy but brazen, also-married veteran of the sexually illicit arts. Hard drinking and in denial about her alarming smokers cough, she has no patience or sympathy with Barney’s attempts to have some human, emotional understanding or connection of any kind.
Bodelle de Ronde has a manic allure as impetuous teeny-bopper Bobbi, a nightmarishly scatty and self-obsessed young actress. All hair, legs and trouble, Bobbi is the most diametrically opposite in lifestyle to the clockwork Barney.
His best friend’s depressive wife Jeanette may be as resolutely miserable as Bobbi is insufferably perky, but Anna Stillaman’s wry portrayal elicits almost as much laughter.
The set design by Nick Greer is certainly the most opulent and expertly constructed I have seen on the Pumphouse stage. High walls, classical furniture, velvet curtains and Persian rugs, even a hanging chandelier; every bit the Jewish widow’s Manhattan apartment it purports to be, proficiently lit by Scott Thomas.
Angela Antony’s wardrobe designs similarly delight our retro fashion sensibilities in homage to the era of the play’s 1969 premiere. Barney’s blue suit and Jeanette’s beige ensemble are tastefully conservative whilst Elaine’s scarlet coat, blue dress and long string of pearls are rivalled only by Bobbi’s eye-popping psychedelic paisley satin frock and white knee-high boots.
The soundtrack, not credited, comprises a well-selected, anachronistic assortment of mainly jazz-based classics on the topic of the mating game, both romantic and seedy.
As consistently entertaining as the script is, humour-wise, I have to admit it felt superficially light and a tad whiney after the first act, congruent with the generally accepted notion that it’s ‘just Neil Simon’.
But the final act succeeds in penetrating beneath the surface to identify some real questions at the heart of every middle-class human’s existence, not entirely dissimilar to that other American classic playing in Auckland currently, Death of a Salesman, though obviously without the same visceral impact of insightful pathos.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer