Last of the Red Hot Lovers at the Bakehouse Theatre
This week, the Bakehouse Theatre brings Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers to the stage, and Carly spoke to actress Stefanie Rossi about her experiences working on this play, and why Neil Simon's works continue to be relevant to audiences. Have a read below:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Last of the Red Hot Lovers – a play by one of America’s greatest playwrights, Neil Simon. How has this play withstood the tests of time and why is it still relevant for 2019 audiences?
Neil Simon is so wonderful at writing real people. His plays are always based around everyday people going through everyday emotions in everyday situations and how they navigate themselves through the ups and downs that are presented to each and every one of us as human beings. In that way, his plays are timeless and deal with concepts and situations that are relatable to people of any era. He reaches out to the audience through his earthy characters and will make you laugh with empathy as well as cringe in recognition of certain situations you may have experience in your own life. Because of this relatability, his messages and the questions he asks will always be relevant, as, no matter how much time passes or how much more technologically advanced we become, we as human beings are still inherently the same.
What has the process of working on this play been like? Who is/are your character(s) and what have you learnt from taking on these women?
Working on such a beautifully written piece is an absolute blessing for an actor as the words simply flow and you can really trust the writing to guide you in terms of character as well as the overall style and voice of the piece. So it has been a lot of fun unpacking the play from the first read through and there has been a lot of play in rehearsals to find each character and how each would respond in each moment as well as develop the relationship between Barney and each woman.
I play all of the three women that Barney invites up to his mother’s apartment to have an extramarital affair, at different times of course! Elaine – the promiscuous sexbot with a one track mind, Bobbi – the experimental LA wannabe actress who is borderline certifiable and Jeanette – the thoroughly depressed and embittered Jewish housewife. It has been a wonderful challenge to define each of these characters so they are all 100% unique and I think I have been lucky enough to practise three different ways of playing comedy through taking on these three roles: farce, wise-crack and bitter-sweet. So it has been a learning experience in terms of character development but also style which is wonderful.
Talk to us about the world of the play – it is set in Barney Cashman’s mother’s apartment. What role does the environment play in this particular show and how does it add to the comedy of this piece?
Naturally, the fact that Barney is trying to have an extramarital affair in his mother’s apartment is, in itself, hilarious! Not the most obvious or tactful place to undertake that sort of endeavour! It does also add to that sense of urgency between Barney and each of the women that he invites over as his mother will be home from work at a certain time, so there is that comic tension that exists throughout. And his mother is also a very ‘meticulous’ Jewish woman…so NOTHING in the apartment can be moved or even slightly out of place, which does add to Barney’s nervousness and is a feeling regarding a parent I’m pretty sure most audience members would be able to relate to, which is where the comedy lies.
What is something that you hope audiences take away from this show?
Like all of our shows, we hope to have the audience thinking when they step out of the theatre and having conversations/asking questions in the foyer. What makes someone decent? What would I do in a similar situation? What happens to the characters when the curtain comes down? We are hoping that people think about connecting with those in their lives and reflect on what it means to just be themselves. We also hope they feel like they’ve had a good laugh!
Once the show is over and done, what is one thing that you think will stay with you about this piece or your character?
The fact that no matter who you are or where you’re from, all human beings have the need and desire to be loved and to make a difference in the world. We all want to feel relevant and all have our own personal journeys, challenges to overcome and vulnerabilities.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
The House by Brian Parks (2018 Edinburgh Fringe)
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Plays or musicals?
Dream role to perform?
Elphaba in WICKED
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Cooking and baking!
What’s next for you after this show?
I go straight into the Adelaide Fringe where I am in four shows: All Change (Smokescreen Productions UK), JUDAS (STARC Productions in association with Smokescreen Productions), Sex & The Musical (Emma Knights Productions) and Oysters (Oyster Creatives)