Saturday, February 24, 2024


Written by Neil Simon

Directed by Anne Somes

A Canberra REP production

Canberra REP Theatre, Acton to 9 March


Reviewed by Len Power 23 February 2024


Neil Simon’s 1969 play, ‘Last Of The Red Hot Lovers’, coincided with a time of change in the USA. There was the flower power of the hippy movement, the sexual revolution, the increasing dominance of rock music and the debate over the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

In the play, fish restaurant owner, Barney Cashman, is aware of the changes around him and worried that at age 47 he is missing out on the sexual revolution. Although married to his childhood sweetheart, he decides to do something about his frustrations. Using his mother’s apartment on afternoons when she is absent, he attempts seductions of three very different women.

The huge role of Barney Cashman is played very well by David Cannell. His excellent comic timing gets all of the laughs in the right places. The depth of his characterisation clearly and, at times poignantly, shows the good man underneath even though he is making feeble attempts at adultery.

As Elaine Navazio, the first woman invited to the apartment, Victoria Tyrrell Dixon gives a subtle, nicely detailed performance of a brittle woman who happily enjoys extramarital sexual encounters but has no patience with Barney’s need for a more romantic start.

Stephanie Bailey as Bobbi Michele is colourful and amusing as a not very self-aware young woman who is ill at ease with herself under the surface. Bailey captures every aspect of this character very well.

The third woman, Jeanette Fisher, is married to Barney’s best friend. Played by Janie Lawson, this nervous and guilty character is given an excellent characterisation.  Lawson also has great comic timing, making every laugh line count.

The full width of the Canberra REP theatre’s stage is used by set designer, Cate Clelland. It looks like Barney’s mother has a New York penthouse, rather than a smaller apartment typical of that city. It’s nicely designed but its spaciousness may have led to the distracting lighting decision to highlight moments when the characters spend time together on a sofa. Music cues often seem awkward as well.

Overall, Anne Somes has given us an enjoyable, well-paced production with a strong cast that brings out all of the humour and pathos in Neil Simon’s play.


Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at