SUNY Oneonta Theater Department Presents: “Barefoot in the Park”

Hannah Da’Mes, Staff Writer | 

SUNY Oneonta’s Theater Department’s rendition of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” had its opening performance on Friday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hamblin Theater. Additional performances took place on February 24, 25, and also from February 27 through March 1.

This production was directed by John McCaslin-Doyle, chair of SUNY Oneonta’s Theatre Department and associate professor of theatre history, dramatic literature, and acting. “Barefoot in the Park” is one of Simon’s more popular works, and was adapted into a film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.

The show opens with Briana Powers as Corie Bratter, the excited new wife of Paul Bratter, a “rising young attorney,” as they moved into a faulty apartment after a six-day honeymoon. Powers’ exuberance was apparent from the moment she walked on stage, and she managed to keep it up for the entire show, which is particularly impressive considering her stage time totals 94 percent of the show.

The small cast included five other actors besides Powers: James Blydenburgh as Paul, Kaelan Meers as Victor Velasco, Leslie Sawyer as Mother, Jarrett Dougal as the Telephone Man, and Nadina Espinosa as the Delivery Man.

The show was not only comprised of a student cast and stage management team, but had students on the production team as well. This included Lisa Hornick as the lighting designer, Mariah Mazzeo as the sound designer, and Kristen Goodwin as both the properties manager and one of the assistant stage managers. Additionally, Nadina Espinosa was the assistant director along with her role as the Delivery Man.

The faulty apartment proved to parallel the shaky foundation Corie and Paul’s marriage was built on. In the beginning of the play, Corie playfully joked about wanting a divorce from Paul, which was comedic because of the short amount of time that they had been married—six days to be exact. By the middle of the play, however, Corie actually does ask for a divorce during their first fight, even though they had only been married a week or two.

From a design standpoint, the play was visually interesting. As a black box theater space, the Hamblin can be transformed into a variety of seating configurations. This year, it is in a thrust style, with the audience on all sides of the stage except the back. This allowed for dynamic staging and an opportunity for audience members to experience theatre in a different way from the Western proscenium style.

The set had two main levels, the apartment and the roof, which was behind a colorful skylight. A particularly magical (and comical) part of the play was when snow sprinkled through a hole in the skylight, illuminated by the blue-tinted light of the sky.

Responses to the end of the play were polarized. Audience members either believe that Corie and Paul live the rest of their lives happily married and in love, or that they never really loved each other and end up divorced in the near future because their marriage stems from an idealistic view of relationships. But whatever the interpretation, it is no doubt that SUNY Oneonta’s Theatre Department put on a spectacular show with great emotional energy and comedic timing.

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