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January 21, 2014 > Theatre Review: Last of the Red Hot Lovers - sizzles at Broadway West

Theatre Review: Last of the Red Hot Lovers - sizzles at Broadway West

By Janet Grant

Broadway West Theatre Company under the clear direction of Mary Galde, launched its 18th season of quality community theatre Friday with Neil SimonÕs, ÒLast of the Red Hot Lovers.Ó SimonÕs lighthearted comedy opened on Broadway in 1969 and Broadway WestÕs production brings back that time, its sexual revolution frenzy and cool music with warmth and style.

In 1960s New York, it was relatively easy for most adults to engage in casual sex. But apparently there were some exceptions as hilariously depicted in ÒLast of the Red Hot Lovers.Ó
Barney Cashman, played by Alan Perez, is a middle-aged, balding, Manhattan fish restaurateur having a mid-life crisis. Growing increasingly aware of his own mortality, he decides to join the sexual revolution. The only problem is he is married and has never been unfaithful. So of course he sets up a series trysts in his motherÕs apartment and tries to seduce three women in successionÉ with comical and rather calamitous results.
Mr. Perez is perfect as Barney. He plays the role with just the right fussiness and guilt. Barney is inexperienced, socially inept, and a bit boring. Never is this more apparent then in his first attempted tryst with Polish fireball, Elaine Navazio, brilliantly portrayed by Ambera DeLash. Elaine is more experienced and prefers more action and less talk. This is difficult when Barney needs her out of the studio apartment by 5 p.m. ThatÕs when his mother finishes her job at Mt. Sinai Hospital. And of course, everything has to look untouched in the apartment - thatÕs why he brings his own glassware!
Ms. Navazio takes control as soon as she enters the apartment. She is larger than life and is all business. Barney keeps forgetting her name and virtually talks her to death. We are never quite sure if he wants to get to know her better or is terrified of touching her! Ms. NavazioÕs hacking cigarette cough is especially entertaining.
Barney is more prepared with his second tryst as Jenni Gebhardt made her entrance as nervous, mod-hippish, psycho, actress Bobbi Michele. Ms. Gebhardt was hilarious with her non-stop verbal storytelling which became more fanciful and deranged as she continued. The sanest thing she does is to smoke a joint to keep her calm. It made for one of the eveningÕs funniest moments when she persuaded Barney to join her for a drag.
Barney is at his self-assured and most seduction-ready best with tryst number three when in blows the frazzled, depressed, purse-clutching Jeanette Fisher, played hysterically by Elizabeth Lowe. Ms. Lowe was spot on as the mousy and melancholic family friend totally turned off by BarneyÕs physical appearance. She wanted absolutely no romance and whatÕs more, she puts Barney on the moral spot about decency!
BarneyÕs thwarted and clumsy attempts as a red hot lover, makes for a night of great laughs and wonderful entertainment. Though not a play intended for children, Broadway WestÕs ÒLast of the Red Hot Lovers,Ó is an adult comedy definitely worth seeing and well worth the ticket price.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Friday, Jan 17 - Saturday, Feb 15
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 1 p.m.)
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont, CA 94539
(510) 683-9218
www.broadwaywest.org
Tickets: $10 - $25

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