TIMES change, but some things do not. Excellent theatre and intriguing human beings are timeless - Esk Valley Theatre’s production of Last of the Red Hot Lovers encompasses both.
Neil Simon’s play, written in 1969, fizzes with humour and animated dialogue. As you would expect from the hugely successful New York writer, the script deftly switches between one-liners, lapped up by the Glaisdale audience, and comments on ‘the human condition’.
This is the Kennedy era, with central character Barney Cashman pre-occupied that he has missed out on the sexual revolution. He has encounters with three very different women, gradually finding out more about himself.
That term places the play clearly in the 1960s - the mood is enhanced by the great soundtrack of chart hits of the time, as well as the bar-style kitchenette. One of the characters indulges in ‘medicinal’ pot smoking and another is visiting an analyst to address issues about the pointlessness of life. Our concerns in the 21st century may have moved on, but we find ourselves thoroughly absorbed in this production.
Joanne Heywood plays all three women – Elaine Navazio, Bobbi Michele, Jeanette Fisher – for Esk Valley Theatre. She is exquisitely, powerfully convincing in all roles.
And it is very interesting to watch Rodney Matthew portray Barney’s range of personality traits brought out by the different women – at times, he becomes a foil for them.
The skilful direction by Mark Stratton immediately draws us in, with Barney’s signature entrance to the meticulously designed apartment.
And the uninhibited singing and giggling is an endearing, well choreographed scene.
To quote the play, the talent to change moods in this production is impressively evident – almost as good as tap dancing ...You’ll see what I mean if you go along.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers runs at the Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, until Saturday August 31, daily at 7.30pm. Matinees every Thursday at 2.30pm also Saturday August 17 and Tuesday August 20 and 27.
Tickets on: 01947 897587
Review by Emily Thwaites