WESTMINSTER — A new and promising theater was born last weekend, as the Carroll Community College Drama Club presented its first production, Neil Simon's popular comedy "Barefoot In the Park."
This was entirely a student production, since the college does not have a drama program. And most of the weaknesses of the production were a direct result of this.
Instituting college performance and technical courses would enhance immeasurably the already good work of the students.
Given the student talent and enthusiasm on display, I hope it will not be long before a CCC drama program becomes a reality.
"Barefoot in the Park" is well-known to theater- and moviegoers. It has survived as one ofSimon's most-produced plays among the literally dozens he has written in the past 30 years.
The story revolves around two very happy -- nay, ecstatic -- newlyweds who have moved into their first apartment six long and enervating staircase climbs above street level. Their happiness is interrupted by a disapproving mother of the bride and a middle-aged neighbor, who is an avid raconteur and ladies' man.
Also complicating their relationship is the growing awareness that theyare very different people with very different outlooks on life. Mostof the story centers on the breakup and reconciliation of the newlyweds and the awkward, but humorous, coupling of the conservative widowed mother-in-law and the the Bohemian "boy next door."
Stacey Longand Anthony Ferguson as the young couple are at their best in the softer romantic scenes. They are an attractive, believable couple whosemutual love and sensuality communicates clearly to the audience.
They are less successful in the latter part of the play when the breakup occurs. Too much of their disagreement plays on mostly one level in volume, rate and quality, and this is simply one of the aspects ofproduction that good acting courses would take care of.
As the mother, Pamela Smith plays the scenes with her children well and the ones with the neighbor less believably.
Cary Garland, as the neighbor, gives a somewhat misguided performance, which appears to result from a directorial choice. Instead of a suave middle-European, the director provides an often-immature Britisher, and it simply doesn't work.
Student director Michael Lyons has done well in integrating the physical production and has kept his actors on track intellectually. What is lacking is the realistic talk of characters, instead of the rather shrill and loud voices of actors working too hard at projecting.
There are almost no quiet moments, and there is no time when theuse of the pause is used for dramatic effect. The pace is fast, and that is desirable. The rhythm is non-existent, and that is not.
Notwithstanding, this is an impressive premiere of the Carroll Community College Drama Club, and its members can take pride in their very good production on a small budget in a space not well suited for theater. Congratulations on a fine beginning.
We can look forward to their further work with pleasure and anticipation.