Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Student produces a studied debut

Barefoot in the Park: Katy Campbell and James Marlow-Smith are at the centre of the action as Hall Green Little Theatre opens its new season with the Neil Simon romantic comedy

Barefoot in the Park

Hall Green Little Theatre


STUDENT James Marlow-Smith really socks it to 'em on his debut for the company in this highly amusing  Neil Simon play which opened on Broadway in 1963 and ran for 1,530 performances.

He plays the serious young lawyer, Paul Bratter, who appears to be heading for a very brief marriage when his vivacious blonde bride, Corrie, demands more fun from their union and suggests he is a 'stuffed shirt'.

Marlow-Smith, studying performing arts at Solihull College, is so comfortable in the role, whether arguing his case hammer and 'tongues' with his new partner, staggering breathless into their tiny downtown Manhattan apartment after climbing five flights of stairs, coping with a heavy cold or even carefully pressing his ties in a large hard-back book.

He needs to use all his courtroom training to compete with the free-spirited Corrie, beautifully played by Kate Campbell who simply revels in the role, making light of the sparse, unheated apartment which has no lift access and houses a few oddball tenants.


Kate copes well with the required American accent as she first teases then torments her patient husband, who at first rejects a challenge to walk barefoot in the local park, and one of many amusing incidents sees the telephone man (Bryan Gell) doing his best as a peacemaker while repairing the shattered handset - result of Paul finally snapping and showing a rare blast of temper.

Lin Neale, Corrie's widowed mother, also impresses as the lively dialogue flows, Roger Warren makes his mark as eccentric neighbour Victor Velasco, and Eric Leonard (delivery man) completes a fine cast.

One of many highlights comes when Lin reappears, rather bedraggled, after going missing following a blind date with Victor, cunningly arranged by her well meaning daughter.

The set for the young couple's apartment, complete with skylight which is ideal for a couple of amusing rooftop scenes, was designed by Mel Hulme.

Directed by Margaret Whitehouse, Barefoot in the Park runs to Saturday night. 02.10.10.

Paul Marston

Box Office : 0121 707 1874    On-line booking   

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