Barefoot in the Park Summary

Neil Simon

Barefoot in the Park

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Barefoot in the Park Summary

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The play Barefoot in the Park: A Comedy in Three Acts by Neil Simon premiered in 1963. The original Broadway cast of this romantic comedy included Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. This play was Neil Simon’s longest running hit with 1,530 performances from 1963 until 1967. In 1967, the play was made into a film.

Barefoot in the Park features newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter. Corie is an impulsive and free-spirited woman. She is also a romantic. Paul, on the other hand, is a conservative, proper and stuffy. He is twenty-six years old. He pays more attention to his new career as a lawyer than to his new bride.

After a six-day honeymoon, the newlywed couple moves into their first home together. The play takes place over their first four days living together in New York.

Paul and Corie live in a top floor apartment of a brownstone in New York City. The apartment is far from perfect. It is tiny. It is a walk up on the fifth floor. It is too expensive. It is in dire need of a paint job. The skylight leaks. It lacks heat. There is no furniture. Plus, it has bad plumbing.

To Corie, the empty apartment is a blank slate full of potential. It is a place for her to establish a home and a life with Paul from scratch with no preconceived conditions. As the actual baggage accumulates in their new home, so too does the emotional baggage which any two people bring into a relationship.

Due to their personality differences and the challenges of their new living circumstances, Paul and Corie soon begin to argue. Harry Pepper comes to install the Bratters’ new telephone while Corie happily examines her new home. Harry witnesses, much to his dismay, the newlywed couple’s first fight when Paul returns home.

Paul and Corie discover that adjusting to married life is not easy. They struggle to reconcile the different ways that they approach challenges and life in general. Corie feels that Paul does not understand her. Corie wonders why Paul cannot be more of a romantic and have a sense of adventure. Paul questions Corie’s choices. The play gets its name when Corie asks Paul to run barefoot in the park and do other things that are more spontaneous and easy going.

Amid the newlywed’s marital strife, Corie’s mother makes a surprise visit which makes the situation even worse. Corie’s crazy mother, Ethel Banks, is a widow in her late forties. She lives alone in West Orange, New Jersey. She is disappointed when she sees the apartment and makes no attempt to hide her feelings. She is out of touch with the latest fashion but has not lost her beauty. Since the death of her husband, her life has lost its purpose and sense of direction. Ethel has both a bad back and sensitive stomach.

Corie thinks that romance will help make her mother happier. Corie tricks her mother into a blind date with Victor Velasco. Corie invites Ethel to a dinner gathering that will also include Paul’s parents, whom Ethel is excited to meet again.

In their building, they have a neighbor known as “The Bluebeard of 48th Street.” He lives in the apartment in the building’s attic. Victor Velasco is a fifty-eight-year-old, eccentric, and colorful character. His taste in fashion varies from stylish double-breasted pinstriped suits to Japanese kimonos and berets. He has been married three times and is a terrible flirt. He is a gourmet cook. He is an adventurous man who skis and climbs mountains but is beginning to slow down with age.

The wild evening is a disaster in some regards. During his date with Ethel, Victor manages to break his toe and get an upset stomach. Victor realizes that he needs to settle down and begin to act his age. The evening helps Ethel to remember what it is like to be carefree and spontaneous. Despite the nature of the evening, Ethel and Victor fall in love.

Things temporarily look dire for Paul and Corie. They agree to get divorced and fight over the divorce settlement. After getting drunk, Paul walks barefoot in the park in the middle of winter. He successfully proves to Corie that he, too, can be spontaneous. The couple gets back together. Paul and Corie learn that they need each other for emotional fulfillment. They realize that a happy marriage requires that one give in order to receive.

American Neil Simon (born July 4, 1927) is an author, screenwriter, and Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright. He has written more that thirty plays. Many of his plays, including Lost in Yonkers, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991, are partly autobiographical and portray characters who are New Yorkers and Jewish. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, his work has won three Tony awards and been nominated for an Oscar.