Mesa Theatre Co. recreates traditional partnerships through humor

Riko Pratt, Editor-in-Chief

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In Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” the audience gets a look inside a newlywed couple. The couple, in question, is Paul and Corie Bratter—or Paula and Corie and whichever variation one may have attended.
One of the most innovative things about the Mesa College Theatre Company’s rendition of this classic is the idea of portraying different types of couples. Alternating each night, the company will have a different relationship represented while still following along the same story and script. One night there would be a gay couple taking the stage. The next could be a traditional pairing followed by a gender swap pairing.
Each group is made up of the same actors meaning that one of the boys playing Paul could also be Corie with the other male playing Paul or vice versa. With so many possibilities, it raised questions of how well the performance could have been staged.
Well, no need for that – the performance was quite remarkable. Everything seemed to be going as planned and the actors nailed their parts down nicely.
Brandon Hickman, who played Paul, the uptight lawyer, brought an interesting charisma to the character. It was a joy to watch him and his interactions with the other characters because of their opposite personalities.
Victoria Candelaria was another standout, portraying the fun and free-spirited Corie. Candelaria basically never left the stage the entire play, which gave the audience a strong sense of her character.
The two contrasting main characters really helped showcase the idea of modern relationships. Even with the many differences and challenges the couple had, they were able to make it work because they loved each other.
The most intriguing character was the strange upstairs neighbor, Victor Velasco, played fantastically by Nick Hessling. Victor was definitely the highlight of the show because whenever his character appeared on stage, something crazy was bound to happen.
Dramatic Arts professor and director of “Barefoot,” Kris Clark did an incredible job with the casting and the overall staging of the play, as well as the creative concept.
Another noteworthy aspect of the play was the design elements. In particular, the costuming of the characters, designed by Jesse Gundersen, fit perfectly with the theme of the play. Paul’s character wore a suit in almost every scene due to his law career and Corie had a more laidback feel that went perfectly with the character.
Another strong design choice was the scenic creation by Nic Latta that never changed throughout the entire performance. The set mainly depicted the inside of an apartment. Eventually furniture was added in the second act but only due to a part in the script featuring a running gag about the movers taking forever to bring their furniture.
Overall, “Barefoot” did its job and was a fun and hilarious experience featuring relatable characters and a sweet message.

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