Can the dated comedy of “Barefoot in the Park”—a string of waggish wisecracks, farcical stage actions and comic misunderstandings—work today? The producers of next season’s Broadway remounting of playwright Neil Simon’s 1963 comedy seem to think so. But that production’s probable success will no doubt be influenced by the presence of well-known stage and screen actors already committed to that revival. In their inaugural company offering of “Barefoot, ” Chicago’s Easy Street Players feature no “names” to speak of, just a charming cast of newcomers who successfully provide a guilty-pleasure production that acknowledges and unapologetically embraces “Barefoot” for what it is today: a nostalgia piece of slick comic writing that mercilessly bludgeons its audience with a litany of predictable humor. No less and certainly no more. Equipped with this insight, and a well-honed comic timing—the cast delivers Simon’s lines with effortless, throwaway abandon and instead concentrates their youthful-exuberance into milking the physical running gags for so much mileage they could fund their own frequent-flyer program. The commitment pays off: whether you laugh with the actors, or laugh at the person next to you for laughing with the actors, the point is you laugh. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
At Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, (312) 902-1500. Thu-Sat 8pm/Sun 2pm. $15-$20. Through July 24.