The classic Neil Simon play “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” is now playing at the Ridgefield Theater Barn through September 28th. This comedy which was first staged on Broadway in 1969 was the recipient of four Tony Award nominations.
The play is in three acts with each act featuring Barney Cashman, (Duane Lanham) a married forty something year-old owner of a seafood restaurant. Barney is afraid he is missing out on the sexual revolution of the 1960’s . In the space of several months, he invites three different women to his mother’s Manhattan apartment in an attempt to have an afternoon of extramarital fun. Each scene involves a different woman, and the Barney learns quickly that the sexual revolution may not be his cup of tea.
His first encounter is with Elaine Navazio (Paulette Layton) who he meets in his restaurant. Elaine we find is in an open marriage and is quite comfortable with having extramarital affairs. Elaine is put off by Barney’s sexual ineptness and his inexperience with affairs as well as his desire for a meaningful encounter. The exchange between the two is quite comical as his inexperience is represented by not having cigarettes or the right alcohol on hand. Barney decides this lifestyle is not for him.
In Act Two, we are back in the apartment months later and Barney has now met a young actress Bobbi Michele (Kate Patton) in the park. He soon finds his young friend is really not what he expected. Even though he is now prepared with booze and packs of cigarettes, young Bobbi just wants to talk about herself, her career and smoke pot, which she encourages Barney to try. She is quite the contrast to the amorous Elaine from Act One.
In Act Three the tone of the play turns a bit darker and deeper as it probes into morality. Here we meet Jeanette Fisher (Linda Seay) who is the wife of a good friend. Barney has learned that Jeanette’s husband has been carrying on an affair for some time and convinces her that her own affair will even the score. But from the moment she walks into the apartment it is clear that Barney’s plan of an afternoon of sex is not what he imagined. Jeanette does not know why she really is there, does not want cigarettes or alcohol and her exaggerated body language and running away from Barney is not only comedic but lets the audience and Barney know that this is not what she wants. She does want to find people that are kind and who are “decent”. It is in this dialogue which is so different from the previous Acts that Barney comes to an awakening that everything he really needs is waiting at home.
Duane Lanham was wonderful as Barney and we love his physical style of comedy and his hysterical facial expressions. He is one of our favorite actors at the Barn, having seen him in Wreck the Halls, Rumors, and the hysterical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. We loved Paulette Layton, Kate Patton, and Linda Seay, and they are all very funny actors playing very different roles. Well done ladies. The opening night crowd agreed with rousing applause for the cast and crew.
The play was directed by Michael Ferrara who as a young boy acted in Neil Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady. Though the play is now 50 years old, it subject of morality and truth is still relevant today.
The Ridgefield Theater Barn is a small intimate space. Theater goers are encouraged to bring food and drink to the theater to enjoy prior to the performance.
for tickets and information:
Ridgefield Theater Barn
37 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield CT 06877
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