Imagine being on a Broadway stage for almost three minutes, alone, with not a word to say; now, glue newspaper to your feet and try to walk. This was the task set before Amanda Peet in her Broadway debut at the Cort Theatre in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park. She handled it with aplomb. In fact, on stage she is the bubbly and vivacious newlywed, Corie Bratter, a part it seems Neil Simon unknowingly wrote for the Syriana star. Though some of the early lines were shouted at the other players, Peet hits her stride and proves she has the gavitas for live theatre that some say Julia Roberts is lacking in her concurrent debut in "Three Days of Rain."
Opposite Peet is Patrick Wilson who proves himself to be the consummate Broadway professional in his portrayal of Paul Bratter. As the stuffed shirt fuddy-duddy (one wonders if he is really that anal), his caustic commentary drives the humor of Simon's crazy love story. Through it all, one never doubts his love for his new wife Corie, a love he proves by walking in the park barefoot, in the middle of winter. Do NOT be surprised if he receives a third Tony nomination for this performance!
Rounding out the ensemble are veteran stars Jill Clayburgh as Corie's mother Mrs. Banks and Tony Roberts as Victor Velasco. Between them, they have a pair of nominations from Tony, Oscar, and Emmy, and they prove in this production that they are worth every one of them. This is Roberts second time starring in Barefoot. He played Paul Bratter in the original production, replacing Robert Redford.
Though the cast is marvelous, the last word must go to Neil Simon. It was Barefoot in the Park, in 1963, that first propelled Simon to infamy as Broadway's (and maybe America's) greatest writer. Though he would go on to write such luminary pieces as The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, and Brighton Beach Memoirs, Barefoot has it all--tight writing, poignant emotions, and hysterical one-liners. Every Broadway fan owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Simon because no one else makes us laugh and cry like he does.