Amber Lochead and Derek Spalding star as newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter in Neil Simon’s play Barefoot in the Park

Amber Lochead and Derek Spalding star as newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter in Neil Simon’s play Barefoot in the Park

Newlywed game

Timeless theme makes more than 40-year-old play still relevant today

After a young couple wed, they hope for what many young people idealistically hope for in the beginning – the man hopes his wife will stay as she is forever, while his new wife begins immediately to change him.

It’s the timeless theme of Neil Simon’s play Barefoot in the Park by Nanaimo Theatre Group, which opens Feb. 2 at the Bailey Studio.

The play was written in 1963 and director Sherri McLean decided to leave it in that time period. Costume designer and actor Sheila Bowman said the time period, which mirrors the era popularized by the television show Mad Men, is interesting in itself.

Men’s suits are slimmer, the collars higher and the ties skinnier, which is back in fashion today, thanks to the television show.

“It means the thrift stores have been gleaned of everything that’s cool,” Bowman said.

She dove back into the theatre group’s extensive costume closet, remaking the clothing to suit it to the early ’60s.

Set designer Roger Lappin and set dresser Lyn Strand went all out recreating the era in home decor.

The dialogue often refers to a different time period, which was another consideration to staging the play in its original context.

“Some things would be different now,” Bowman said. “There’s no mention of Corie [the young newlywed] working.”

The story opens with Corie Bratter, played by Amber Lochead, and her husband of six days, Paul, played by Derek Spalding, in their new home, a sixth-floor walkup, complete with a skylight.

“They’ve just moved in to a new apartment – the furniture hasn’t arrived when the show opens,” Bowman said.

Complicating their new life is Bowman’s character, Ethel, who is Corie’s mom, a Cassanova-type character of Victor Velasco, played by Nick Schols, and the telephone repairman, a comedic cameo role split between Robb Mowbray and George Compton.

Although the play takes place almost 50 years ago, the themes Simon explores are relevant today.

“The play isn’t necessarily dated,” Bowman said. “We see it differently and we take something different out of it.

“The play doesn’t change – the audience changes. The audience’s perception is what keeps it alive.”

The play runs Feb. 2-19, 8 p.m., and Feb. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets $16-$18. Please call 250-758-7224 or visit

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