Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers is all about what happens when a sensitive man, Barney Cashman (Shaun Braswell) tries to reignite his passion for life by having an illicit affair. He brings a series of women to his elderly mother’s apartment, and in his dealings with them, learns a lot about himself in the process. Simon, through his subtle and humorous writing, also reveals much about the nature of humans and sexuality through Barney’s three encounters.
In Neuse Little Theatre’s production of this classic play, directed by Tony Pender, the humor aspect of the script is really played up. Pender makes all of the comic moments big and physical, having his cast members bounce and bumble all over the small apartment set, also designed by Pender.
This set, which features wonderful vintage paintings, nice “old lady” touches, and wonderful use of color, is the perfect backdrop for the script’s crazy antics to unfold. In the lead role, Braswell is goofy and charming, and each of the three ladies his character rendezvouses with manages to keep up with his big, energetic performance style.
While he shares good onstage chemistry with each of his leading ladies, it is Braswell and Jacqueline Dorry who are the most watchable and whose scenes stand out as superior. Dorry portrays the crazy, young Bobbi Michele, a pot-smoking, free-loving actress-wannabe, and she really brings this character to a full, rich, and vibrant life. Dorry’s portrayal of Bobbi Michele is insane enough that she feels like someone you should stay away from but effervescent enough that you don’t want to.
With such lively characters, the only real risk with Simon’s play, which premiered back in 1969, is that it can feel a bit dated, Neuse Little Theatre, however, adds in modern touches and small updates, which make it feel more current and relatable. This choice plus the all-around great casting and artistic design make this a fun show that everyone can enjoy.
The Neuse Little Theatre presents LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS at 8 p.m. June 5 and 6 in the former American Legion Hut, 104 S. Front St., Smithfield, North Carolina 27577, at the corner of Front St. and U.S. 70 Business [Market St.].
TICKETS: $13 reserved and $15 walk-up. BOX OFFICE: 919-934-1873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: http://hometownheritage.com/neuselittletheatre/nextshow.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/467880546696225/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.neuselittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NeuseLittleTheatre, and https://twitter.com/neuselittlethtr.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969 Broadway comedy): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/2802/last-of-the-red-hot-lovers-neil-simon (Samuel French), http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=5275 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_of_the_Red_Hot_Lovers (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Neil Simon (Bronx, NY-born playwright and screenwriter): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7879 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Simon (Wikipedia).
D. Anthony Pender (director): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0671661/ (Internet Movie Database).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.