When: Jan. 28-Feb. 15 2015
Neil Simon has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. And for good reason: Simon is a master of situational comedy. In his first Broadway production, 1961’s Come Blow Your Horn, an audience member literally died laughing on opening night. The following year, Simon’s romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park came out on Broadway (A few years later, it was turned into a movie starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda). Lucky for us, it’s currently being staged at Altarena Playhouse (1409 High St., Alameda). Like many of Simon’s other works, Barefoot is both touching and zany. It involves a newly married couple, Corie (the kittenish Becky Doyle) and Paul (Matt Davis, whom you might remember from Altarena’s last 1960s comedy Boeing Boeing). Paul is a somewhat stuffy lawyer, and Corie is his wilder foil — she wears aqua eye shadow, befriends their strange attic neighbor Victor Velasco (Randy Anger), and considers it romantic to walk barefoot in the park when it’s snowing and seventeen degrees. Their new apartment is microscopic, has a hole in the ceiling and sporadic heat, and to get to it, people have to walk up five flights of stairs. Agony! Will these two lovebirds overcome their (admittedly miniscule) differences and dilemmas? You already know the answer, but that doesn’t make Barefoot any less entertaining. Escapism and sentimentality win in the play, and we’re left with a tidy resolution and a belly full of guffaws. Life is absurd, Simon’s play implies — so we might as well all laugh at it together.