The Neil Simon farce Last of the Red Hot Lovers opened this past week at the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott. The production, directed by Penny Powell, features Buzz Roddy, Dori May Ganisin, Marjorie Donovick and Ava Crump.
George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying that the French do not really care what they do as long as they use the correct words. Roddy’s character, Barney Cashman, is no Frenchman – he is a mid-20th century American man — but he’s in crisis, and words are at the root of his perceived woes. At 43 he believes that his life has been incomplete, because he’s never had an affair. And words are his challenge. He strongly believes that romance must be a part of an affair; however, the women he pursues have other words in mind – and romance is not one of them.
Barney is always changing with each scene building upon the character’s development. Roddy rises to the needs of the role, keeping the audience very invested in Barney’s dilemmas. We suffer, share and enjoy all his anguishes.
Ganisin, a well-known actor in this area, always turns in a great performance. In this piece, she is remarkable. Her quick mood changes are phenomenal. From sexual enticement to a coughing seizure to anger and attack — all are accomplished with amazing speed and believability.
Donovick brings high vitality to the stage, and she, too, is able to quickly change the mood, attitude and behavior of her certifiably disturbed character. In one scene, she dons a wig, and the moment the hairpiece is in place, a new and different character presents itself.
Crump has appeared successfully at many local venues, and she is always a pleasure to see on stage. She brings resolution to this piece in a most satisfying way and captures the confusion and complexity of her character.
The set, costumes and technical support are all very good. The audience leaves this play feeling good. Simon’s comedy writing still brings good, deep laughs to the audience, and his resolution for the piece works. For a enjoyable evening that will resonate with many personal stories and bring fun to all, see this play.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers runs Thursdays through Sundays through May 6, at the Cider Mill Playhouse, 2 S. Nanticoke Ave., Endicott. Tickets are $26 ($25 for seniors and students) on Thursdays, Sundays and matinees; $28 on Fridays and $29 on Saturdays. Youths 18 and under are $10 on Sundays and at matinees when accompanied by an adult. Call the box office at (607) 748-7363.