Reviewed by Joan Tupponce
Playwright Neil Simon is a favorite of audiences at Hanover Tavern, so it’s no surprise that Virginia Rep is currently producing Simon’s hilarious play Last of the Red Hot Lovers.
The fun romp introduces us to Barney, a middle-aged restaurant owner who decides that after twenty-some years of marriage he needs to join the sexual revolution and have an affair. An idea that he thought would be so simple turns out to be anything but. Let’s just say Barney knows, or rather doesn’t know how to pick ‘em when it comes to women who would be interested in joining him on this escapade.
When we meet Barney he is nervously awaiting his first female companion, Elaine, a free soul who is tired of
her husband and is looking for a good time and a cigarette. When that doesn’t work out thanks to Barney’s anxiety, he picks up Bobbi in a park. Bobbi is an actress that may or may not be crazy and Barney isn’t prepared to find out.
His third attempt is with Jeanette, a family friend, who has discovered that her husband is cheating on her. Deeply depressed, she cries on Barney’s shoulder and eventually helps him realize that his wife is actually the woman he was looking for all along.
Director Steve Perigard has done an outstanding job of bringing out the best in the four actors on stage, who by the way are some of the finest in the city.
Eva DeVirgilis takes on the character of Elaine with gusto. Her matter-of-fact let’s-get-it-on stance with Barney takes some amusing turns.
Maggie Roop ratchets up the laughter in her role as wacky Bobbi. She flits around the stage in a hippie fog that is fun to watch.
Debra Wagoner brilliantly mixes comedy with warmth in her role as Jeanette, a woman who still loves her husband even though he has cheated.
Scott Wichmann is the perfect Barney. A master at creating a character, Wichmann moves Barney through each rendezvous with skill and ease. At home with physical comedy, he uses the entire stage for his antics. He is a delight to watch.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers will keep you laughing. The show runs through August 30 at Virginia Rep’s Hanover Tavern. Click here for tickets, showtimes, and details on discounts.