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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Fresno Pacific fails to employ show's potential

Neil Simon?s classic romantic comedy, Barefoot in the Park, highlights the ups and downs of a young couple?s first few weeks of marriage. Fresno Pacific University’s (FPU) drama department decided to add a modern twist to this light-hearted love story by setting it in the present day.

Paul Bratter (Brennen Jones) and his bride Corie (Misty Ann Stewart) are trying to adjust to life in a cramped New York apartment after their luxurious honeymoon. The process of dealing with Corie?s lonely single mother?s adjustment to their evolving relationship is taxing on their marriage.

This challenge, combined with their introduction to Victor Velasco (Trevor Thomas), a crazy neighbor who lives above their room in the attic, is enough to drive any new couple up a wall. When Corie’s attempt to set up her mother with Velasco goes awry, the Bratters’ loyalty to one another is tested as their relationship encounters troubled times.

In theory, this plot sounds quite engaging, however FPU’s rendition did not do justice to the original script.

In its defense, Barefoot in the Park marked Bethany Rader’s first experience as a director for FPU after being an assistant director for Hayfever and Spirit of Hispania.

I had never seen or even heard of this production before, so I wasn?t entirely sure what to expect. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by FPU?s mediocre take on this play. The acting didn’t impress me, and there were only six members in the cast, which created more pressure on each of them to be able to carry the performance.

To my chagrin, they were not able to pull it off. The dialogue seemed forced and unnatural and although there were a few moments of comedic relief, it was inconsistent and failed to completely engage me as a member of the audience.

Steward and Jones were consistent throughout the performance, but their characters lacked development and in my opinion they did not connect and draw the audience into their newlywed world. Paul and Corie were not very relatable or intriguing characters and I was not at all emotionally invested in the fate of their marriage.

Chase gave a fairly convincing performance as a lonely, middle age, single mother adjusting to life on her own. Her dialogue and physical humor were usually comedic when they were supposed to be. Her embarrassment upon realizing she has been set up on a blind date with Velasco was believable.

The most amusing character was probably Victor Velasco. Thomas portrayed his quirky personality and the fact that many of his lines were intended to be comical made him the most interesting for me to watch.

On the plus side of this otherwise negative review, there were multiple costume changes. The set, which essentially remained the same throughout the show, was comprised of a small apartment. What began as a bare living room area was redecorated with furniture after the first act, giving it a cozier feel.

The most interesting part of the set was the skylight, which was suspended from the ceiling and had a large hole due to the negligence of the landlord, who is out of town in Florida, much to the annoyance of his tenants.

My only complaint regarding the set is that it became increasingly less captivating from a visual perspective as the show progressed because every scene occurred in the apartment. Perhaps I?ve been spoiled by other theater productions, but I prefer to witness set changes, as they help to keep viewers more into the performance.

I’m sorry to say that, compared to Fresno City College’s The Illusion, Barefoot in the Park did not measure up. City’s staging, acting and costuming were definitely superior in quality.

As Barefoot in the Park left me wanting much more, I do not believe I will return to Fresno Pacific?s next show. Performances will continue in the Ashley Auditorium Nov. 17-19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors.

FPU’s next show, Godspell, opens March 22 and will be showing through April 1.

For more drama reviews, read the Nov. 7 article, Good Company Players adapt Christmas classic.

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