May/June 2007

Last of the Red Hot Lovers
by Neil Simon

Directed by
Rita Vango

Excellent Entertainment
Braintree & Witham Times

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Last of the Red Hot Lovers is the story of Barney Cashman, a middle-aged, mild-mannered gentle soul, who yearns for one grand romantic fling to take him out of his dreary, routine existence.  When he discovers that his mother's flat will be empty for two hours every Friday afternoon, he embarks on a series of encounters with three very different women: a sexpot who likes cigarettes, whiskey, and other women's husbands, an actress friend whom he discovers is madder than a hatter, and his wife's best friend, a woman depressed by the changing times.

In the first act, Barney invites Elaine Navazio, a woman he has met in his fish restaurant, to his mother's apartment one Friday afternoon in December with great expectations of romance.

Barney invites Elaine into his mother's apartment.

Barney tries hard to kindle an affair with Elaine but fails miserably.

Finally, Barney picks up courage to grab Elaine and kiss her but they fall onto the sofa. Barney's attempt at seduction is at an end.

Before Elaine leaves, Barney explains to her why he invited her back to the apartment.

In the second act, Barney invites Bobbi Michele, an out-of-work actress he has met in the park, up to his mother's apartment.  Barney is determined to make up for his failure with Elaine.

On a boiling hot afternoon in July, Bobbi visits Barney at the apartment.

Bobbi cools herself in front of the air conditioner.

Barney is shocked to hear Bobbi's stories about her adventures with various men in the film industry.

Bobbi persuades Barney to join her in smoking pot and as they both get stoned, Barney's second attempt at seduction comes to an end.

In the last act, Barney, in desperation, invites a family friend Jeanette Fisher to the apartment.  He is unaware that all is not well with Jeanette.

A tearful Jeanette enters the apartment, wondering why she has come.  An optimistic Barney tries to get her to sit down and relax.

Jeanette, who has been suffering from melancholia for the last eight months, tells Barney of her total and complete despair.  He has never felt so depressed in his whole life.

Jeanette tries to persuade Barney that there are no decent people in the world.  There are only indecent people or idiots.

Barney finally snaps and, drawing on his experiences with the first two women, rails at Jeanette about all the indecency in the world.  He persuades her that perhaps they are decent people after all.

After realizing the futility of his attempts at a grand romantic fling, Barney phones his wife Thelma and invites her to the apartment.



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