Pendle duo rivalling Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in this charming romantic comedy

Colne Dramatic Society is kissing goodbye to dark and dreary nights with this awesome romantic comedy.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 11:51 am
Jess Balderston and Riz Riley are giving Jane Fonda and Robert Redford a run for their money in Colne Dramatic Society's staging of Barefoot in the Park. Photo credit: Gilly Grist. (s)

For their season finale, the am-dram group has chosen playwright Neil Simon’s charming Barefoot in the Park and have been tickling Pendle audiences at The Little Theatre this week.

The story is set in a cold and eerie apartment on the top floor of a “brownstone” on East 48th Street, New York City, in the late 1960s.

It tells of the highs and lows of newly married couple, Corrie and Paul Bratter, who have just moved into their new home.

Corrie is starry-eyed, impulsive and highly excited by their new life among colourful, bohemians neighbours.

But Paul, the more grounded half of the couple, is anxious about the flaws in their apartment and is eager to make a name for himself as a high-flying lawyer.

His wife is particularly taken by the daredevil Victor Velasco living upstairs, whom she attempts to set up with her conservative mother.

And the results are highly entertaining.

The play premiered on Broadway in 1963 starring Hollywood legend Robert Redford and the Tony Award-winning Elizabeth Ashley.

Four years later it was turned into a film with Redford starring opposite Jane Fonda, who has two BAFTAs and four Golden Globes.

Stepping into the shoes of these award-winning Hollywood heavyweights must surely be a daunting task.

But Colne Dramatic Society’s experienced cast showed no sign of nerves.

In fact, Jess Balderston and Riz Riley (pictured) dazzled on stage as the married couple and showcased the kind of fantastic chemistry that could rival that of Fonda and Redford.

They nailed the humour of the production and teased out all the endearing idiosyncrasies of their characters.

Jess was full of confidence. Sporting a strong American accent, she cuts a vivacious figure as Corrie, making for a charismatic and infectiously fun leading lady.

Riz Riley was brilliant as Paul, drawing out all of his hilarious quirks and delivering his lines with a powerful comical punch.

Excellent comic timing is also a skill Beverly McKiernan, who play’s Corrie’s mother Mrs Banks, can also count amongst her talents.

She made a fun pairing with John Cummings, who gave a stellar performance as the flamboyant Mr Velasco.

Completing the cast and bringing a final layer of merriment is Paul McKiernan and Michael Mullen as delivery and telephone repairmen.

Director Marilyn Crowther is revisiting the show after playing the Fonda role in the original production by Colne Dramatic Society.

And together with the production team, she is doing an admirable job of putting together a fun and colourful show.

What makes it even more lovely is that the society chose the tale in tribute to playwright Neil Simon, who died in August.

It is also dedicated to former society member David Baistow, who played alongside Marilyn in the original CDS show.

This week’s cast have certainly done him proud.

Performances continues tonight and tomorrow at 7-30pm at The Little Theatre, River Street, Colne.

Tickets: £8; 01282 861424.