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Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Barefoot in the Park Neil Simon's idea of bohemian is ordering a Princess phone for a new fifth-floor walkup apartment -- remember, this is 1963 -- and dialing the weather report. Stylish and elegant, newlywed Corie Bratter (Lauren Bigelow) is a far cry from Haight-Ashbury, but she's game enough to eat in an Albanian restaurant and set up a blind date for her conventional mother (Jo Ann Levine) with rouť Victor (John Kaiser), who uses their bedroom window to climb into his apartment on the roof. After six days of marriage between Corie and Paul (Matt Tramel), a conventional "stuffed shirt" who never does anything impulsive, their perfect honeymoon at the Plaza is a distant memory. She wants the honeymoon to continue, but he has to prepare for his first day in court, there's a hole in the ceiling and the building, he says, is filled with weirdoes. Simon's way with a gag line, after years of writing for the early giants of TV comedy, is genuine and laugh-out-loud funny. When Corie's mother realizes that she's going on a date and not meeting Paul's parents for dinner, she fusses over her appearance. Told she looks fine, she retorts, "For Paul's parents, I just wanted to look clean." Levine's dazed performance subtly defines her character, as does Tramel's, whose dignified demeanor unravels under the onslaught of everyday life. Kaiser captures the irrepressible life force of Victor, and Bigelow turns Corie into something more than a spoiled '60s whiner. Through February 17. Company OnStage, 536 Westbury Square, 713-726-1219.

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