Prasanna, my friend, who directed the short film Ini Bhayam Illai(which was reviewed here before), has now joined the Evam theatre group and had invited us for a special screening of the film Barefoot in the Park. The film was originally a Broadway play by Neil Simon. Evam, who have stormed into the theatre scene for a year or so in Chennai, are staging this same play in February. As a curtain raiser and a marketing move, we bloggers including Kiruba, Chandrachoodan, Chenthil and Narsi were invited for the screening of the flick Barefoot in the Park, in The Park Hotel.
Keeping other details to the fag end, here is all about what the play/movie about. Neil Simon, known for his sensibly humorous plays, scripts Barefoot in the park as a gag that happens in a small brownstone apartment of New York. What starts with the romantic musings of a newly wed couple runs into hilarious family affair and ends up barefoot in the park. This Broadway play was adapted as a movie with the same name in 1967. Robert Redford, who played the role of Mr.Paul Bratter in the movie, also starred for the same role in the play.
Jane Fonda as Mrs.Corie Bratter simply rocks. And it’s on her the movie rests upon. It is her innocence and her free spirited character that gets their family life in ruins. Those tight French kisses and romantic intonations would have made her a demi-goddess back in 1967. So romantic and hilarious when she says, “For a lawyer you are some good kisser”. Similarly, in the beginning, after five continuous days in the honeymoon suite of a hotel, the newly wed husband starts to his work. Wife Corie, walks with just a slick small shirt to the elevator where her husband boards the crowded elevator, says “Thank you, Mr. Dooley. Next time you’re in New York, just call me up”. That clueless expression on Robert Redford’s face was amazing. Yo!! We just burst out with laughter and from then on the same tempo gets maintained till the end.
As the couple’s apartment is situated on the fifth floor of an elevator less apartment, the gag is about the people coming up with lack of breath to the couple’s apartment. The telephone guy who comes up to the newly rented house, gets frustrated by the walking up five floors and says, “My name’s Harry Pepper if you ever have any trouble with line, do me a favor, don’t ask for Harry Pepper.” Corie’s mom who comes to visit her daughter newly rented apartment, literally has a stroke and replies annoyingly, “If only there was a knife shop in the apartment basement, I would have killed myself instead of climbing all these stairs”. Charles Boyer as Victor Velasco adds more flavor to the humor. The climax is of course dramticised and comical, similar to that of Michael Madhana Kamarajan. Barefoot in the park is a feel good movie and even watched nearly 38 years of it’s release it seems convincingly relevant.
I did think, before the movie, that if only I watched the movie, I may not be pushed to watch the play. I got it all wrong. Those complex sequences of stairs and the witty remarks make me curious to see how EVAM would unleash the play on stage. I am also extra curious to see the act of the heroine, Corie Bratter, for its around her the play is twined. Looks like the part would be played by a member of Girish Karnad’s theatre group.
Though I haven’t seen any of Evam’s plays till date, I have known them by their publicity which hit my office notice boards during their performance of Woody Allen‘s Death. Combined with their prime sponsors, Royal Sundaram group, they have put together a wonderful marketing effort to get back the awareness of theatre among the Chennaites. Karthik Kumar [remember the Alai Payuthey’s American mappillai] and Sunil started Evam after their course at Mudra Institute of Communications. They are probably trying to take back the theatre from the Jollna-n-Jibba clad, self-proclaimed cerebral groups and give it to the yuppie MNC guys who do nothing big than watching numerous nameless Hollywood flicks in multiplexes. That by itself is a noble virtue and I am personally interested to watch their play even if they haven’t screened the movie for us. If only they keep level-headed with this motive for a couple of years, Chennai would get the grasp of theatre and we will see more theatre groups emerging which would pump up the theatre business.
Here’s the commercial info – Barefoot in the Park is staged at Sivagami Pethachi auditorium near the TTK road on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd weekends of this month. To pick up tickets call 98842 77338.