Presented by STARC Productions
STARC Productions is a solid little outfit, dedicated to producing intelligent but accessible theatre. In that vein, their current production is Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers.
A standard of the repertory opus, it tells the tale of Barney Cashman and the three women with whom he attempts to have affairs. First produced in 1969 it is set at the height of what was known as the “sexual revolution”. Simon puts his solid “nebbish” into the middle of the revolution and thereby gently explores ideas of morality, goodness and happiness.
For this production, Stefanie Rossi plays all three women’s parts, which are usually taken by separate actors. She does an excellent job of quickly establishing character and finding the humanity. Marc Clement plays Barney, and in a sense has the more difficult job. Barney’s character is less obvious, and often dominated by the louder archetypes Simon developed for the women. Clement is always a strong presence on stage: no less so as Barney. However, he does struggle somewhat with the throwaway timing required for much of Simon’s humour, choosing to push it instead. Hopefully as the season progresses, he will relax into this more.
Tony Knight directs with a sure but gentle hand, and there is lovely chemistry between the two actors through all three scenes. Set and lighting make brilliant use of the Bakehouse space.
It would be naïve to claim that this play hasn’t dated: it has. But certainly not to the point where it has become an artefact. It still has something to say about life, love and relationships. It is still humorous, although it lacks much of the exquisite acerbity of some of Simon’s later work. And it is still the writing of a theatrical master.
Once again, STARC have given us a very enjoyable evening in the theatre.
Disclaimer: Tony Knight is a reviewer for GlamAdelaide
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre
Season: 23rd January-2nd February
Duration: 120 minutes