Barefoot in the Park

Aug 25 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Diligent

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Mon 22 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Edinburgh Makars return to the Hepburn Suite at the Royal Scots Club with Barefoot in the Park. Their production of Neil Simon’s comedy is solid and well crafted, but real comic punch comes inconsistently.

The original 1967 play and subsequent movie were big hits at the time but rather have fallen out of sight, with many attitudes seeming dated. One of the main characters is an old-fashioned ‘comedy foreigner’ whose actual origin is unspecified and seemingly unimportant.

Luke McGoldrick, Emma Swift and Georgia Smith. Pic Martin Burnell

Furthermore, the apparent message – that a woman should modify her behaviour, and indeed her character, to give her husband the reassurance he needs, comes more from 1867. That said, there is plenty of snappy dialogue in the tale of two newly-weds discovering how little they actually have in common, and the script is done justice by director Margaret Milne and her cast.

There is a definite contrast between Georgia Smith’s freewheeling Corrie and Luke McGoldrick as her more staid husband Paul, with Smith’s hyperactive glee and McGoldrick’s hangdog stoicism both carefully delineated. Perhaps too much so, as the interaction between them lacks a certain pace and sparkle; much of the comedy fails to hit its mark fully, and you soon wonder how on earth the characters ended up together in the first place.

comic timing

No such problems with Emma Swift as Corrie’s mother Ethel, as her comic timing is spot on, and the character comes across as simultaneously utterly ridiculous and thoroughly sympathetic. Derek Melon gives the peculiar Victor Velasco more gravitas than the part probably deserves, as well as a genuine relish.

Georgia Smith and Luke McGoldrick. Pic Martin Burnell

Two smaller roles from Pierre de Roubin and Ian Swift are discharged with commitment, even if much of de Roubin’s dialogue seems to come when he is obscured by furniture. Otherwise, the acting area is well used, with some impressive scenery. Martin Burnell’s sound is first class, as is the lighting from Graeme Trotter with Ailie Henderson assisting.

The comparative lack of pizzazz means this comes across as a curio more than anything else; done well enough but lacking the pace it needs to make it gleam.

Running time: Two hours (including one 15 minute and one 5 minute interval)
The Royal Scots Club (Hepburn Suite), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Monday 22 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily: 19:30
Tickets and details: Book here.

Company website:
Facebook: @edinburghmakars
Twitter: @EdinMakars

Luke McGoldrick, Georgia Smith and Emma Swift. Pic Martin Burnell


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Comments (2)

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  1. Pat Johnson says:

    This play deserves more than 3 stars. I was there last night and when I wasn’t laughing out loud, was giggling and chortling throughout. The play positively fizzed along, never losing pace, all cues picked up. Every actor nailed their character and the accents were good enough to convince us of location. Neil Simon’s script sparkles with wit and the actors did it great credit, especially the two leads as the newly weds. I hope the cast aren’t too disappointed with this review and that the audience reaction cheers them on for the rest of the run. This production is definitely a crowd pleaser!

    • This was a tremendous retelling of Simon’s play.

      The two leads truly sparkle and their interplay was a joy to behold. Smith’s Corrie is enchanting and McGoldrick is the perfect foil with his immaculate sense of comedic affront. His accent is also perfect.

      Melon almost steals the show with his take on the highly eccentric upstairs neighbour Victor Velasco. He enthralled in every scene.

      Swift is perfectly cast as the overbearing mother and the other members of the ensemble all added to the rich tapestrie.

      The set design was incredible. It invoked a feeling of nostalgia for a New York that no longer exists.

      Yes, there are certain references that may fly right over the head of modern audiences; perhaps the dialogue could have been changed at some points and of course it was written at a time when women were meant to be subservient to their husbands.

      It was superbly performed and it makes for a great night out in the city.