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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

Comical Domestic Disputes

Waukesha Civic Theatre welcomes ‘The Goodbye Girl’

The Goodbye Girl
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Based on Neil Simon’s 1977 hit film of the same name, The Goodbye Girl opens with character Paula McFadden ruing her all-too-familiar luck with actor boyfriends. The former dancer returns home with her daughter, Lucy, only to find a letter from her married boyfriend with news that he’s abandoning them and their plans to move to California. Reading the letter, the precocious Lucy says, “This can’t be good.” It was the first of many one-liners the adorable Elle Erato would deliver in a show filled with wisecracks.

Soon, an actor from Chicago named Elliot Garfield arrives, proclaiming that the apartment Paula and her daughter inhabit was sublet to him by her now Spain-bound ex-boyfriend. Stubborn characters both, Elliot and Paula struggle but come to the agreement that they will share the apartment. However, Paula quickly gets annoyed with Elliot’s eccentric antics, such as playing guitar in his underwear at night and meditating via inconsiderate “ohms” in the morning.

Braving the roles of the two adversaries are Amy Barootian and Nathan Danzer. The shifts of rhythm in their characters’ battles are idiosyncratic. Their fiery exchanges wither to playful jesting as they bicker back and forth, sometimes losing energy.

Paula’s unemployment and Elliot’s frustration with the director of his New York debut (he wants Richard III to have a lisp) heighten the conflict. Sean Duncan gave the director boldness and delivered his scene’s closing pun uproariously. As expected, the off-Broadway Shakespeare production is a disaster, but Paula and Lucy start to fall in love with their intruding housemate as he exposes a sensitive side. With his somber eyes, Danzer made Elliot’s sadness convincing. It was amusing to watch him stumble over furniture and drop his coat on the floor.

After an intimate evening on the rooftop, events speed up and Elliot proposes to Paula over the phone. But their future is quickly shaken when Elliot accepts a film role in Seattle. Uncertain of his return, Paula regrets having fallen in love with another actor. Luckily, Elliot proves he can play the part of husband and father. He returns to Paula and Lucy up the fire escape ladder and back into their hearts.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s The Goodbye Girl runs through Sept. 29. For tickets, call 262-547-0708 or visit waukeshacivictheatre.org.

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