Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Walnut Street Theatre
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Waiting for Lefty and The Ways of White Folks

Grace Gonglewski and Scott Greer
Photo by Mark Garvin
Director Jennifer Childs has brought together a brilliant cast for Walnut Street Theatre's production of Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers. Local favorite Scott Greer is amiably bumbling and very funny as would-be ladies man Barney Cashman. Susan Riley is confident, candid, and downright sexy in the role of frustrated housewife Jeanette Fisher. Adorably kooky and a little bit crazy, Jessica Bedford gets lots of laughs as Bobbi Michele, an aspiring actress recently returned from California. Grace Gonglewski gives some complexity and depth to the role of comically nervous housewife Elaine Navazio.

Unfortunately, all that talent, a bevy of clever jokes, and an impressively realistic set are not enough to cover up the fact that Last of the Red Hot Lovers is a hopelessly dated and cringe-inducing dinosaur of a play that should be thoroughly reworked before it ever comes back to the stage.

The premise of Last of the Red Hot Lovers is that Barney Cashman is a decent guy who wants to have just one sexual affair before his inevitable death. To accomplish his goal, Barney brings three different women to his mother's temporarily empty apartment. It is not giving away too much to reveal that each attempted affair is a disaster in its own way.

All three of Barney's potential sexual partners are written as dated stereotypes of annoying or unpleasant women. Much of the play's humor is derived from the fact that the women are all too crazy, high strung, or spaced out to actually get in bed with good old Mr. Cashman. Never mind that his wife of 23 years is, by all accounts, virtuous and kind. Or that the three women he brings to his mother's apartment might have hopes and dreams of their own. Or that his mother's apartment is empty because she is out volunteering at a local hospital. Nope, all of these women are just fodder for the play's comic conceit: these broads are just too crazy to relax and have a good time with Barney.

Doubtless, there are many who will be willing to overlook the play's blatant misogyny and enjoy the clever jokes and excellent acting. But there is also no doubt that the ample talent on display at the Walnut could be put to better use.

Last of the Red Hot Lovers runs through February 5, 2023, at Walnut Street Theatre, Mainstage, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 or visit

Production and Design Staff:
Director: Jennifer Childs
Set Design: Brian Froonjian
Costume Design: Leigh Paradise
Lighting Design: Shon Causer
Wig Design: Carissa Thorlakson

Barney Cashman: Scott Greer
Elaine Navazio: Grace Gonglewski
Bobbi Michele: Jessica Bedford
Jeanette Fisher: Susan Riley Stevens