Half-Light’s ‘Barefoot’ is ‘must-see production’

Reviewed by Ralph Hall

The “watchers” battle the “doers” in Half-Light Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, which opened last night (March 23)  in the newly renovated ballroom of the Roberson Mansion in Binghamton. Director Tim Mollen established a pace and beat that nourished the humor and accented the dramatic, giving the full-house audience an excellent interpretation of this 1960s comedy.

Zachary Chastain (as a young newly-wed lawyer) and Kate Murray (as the mother of the new bride) interpreted their characters with a strength, consistency, humor and energy that made this production the success that it is. Both actors have been seen and enjoyed often on local stages; however, they both stepped up to new levels of artistic performance in Barefoot in the Park.

Chastain’s character maintains a constant rock of stability with a new wife, job and apartment until the pressure builds and the volcano erupts. Whether in the controlled stable state or lost in the eruption of frustration, Chastain’s performance was outstanding.

When the mother lets down her hair, it is the watcher becoming the doer. The shifting and altering of circumstances and timing demand an equal change in intensity and motivation. Murray very successfully rose to this demand. (Shown from left in the photo: Chastain, Wade, Murray and Yajko.)

Tony Yajko (the Don Juan of the attic) and Amoreena Wade (the new bride) both gave their characters the presence that keeps the action moving, the humor believable and the combat between doers and watchers in place. Joseph R. Petrolawicz’s comedic timing gave a visit from a telephone man new meaning.

Half Light uses the space exceedingly well with a semi-circular arranged audience. The production was well managed by stage manager Nathan Butler. Company management says:  “As a theater company, Half Light’s mission is to reflect the human condition through a medley of performing arts that challenge, entertain, and resonate with the live audiences.” In Barefoot in the Park, they validated their mission. This is a must-see production.

Barefoot in the Park will be performed at 7:30 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday (March 24 and 25) at the Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St., Binghamton. Tickets: Call Roberson at 772-0660.

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