Witty banter and solid — though unspectacular — performances helped capture the audience in “Butterflies are Free," playing through Feb. 16 at the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine.
Written by Leonard Gershe in 1969, the play centers around a young blind man, Don, who moves out of his overbearing mother’s house and tries to make it on his own in the big city. After a month, he meets the girl next door — a zany, outgoing and ditzy divorcee named Jill. An inevitable and rather predictable romantic fling ensues.
Constant puns on blindness keep the play from becoming too emotional or boring. The loudest laugh came when Jill was explaining how she became a hippie to rebel against her mother. Then, her mother loved the idea and followed in her footsteps. That’s when Jill “joined the young Republicans for Ronald Reagan.”
The set was that of a humble apartment complete with a make-shift dining room table, constructed from a bathtub and wood plank. A guitar, a box of cornflakes and a bunk bed were the defining features of the set. Audience members remarked that the set was too simple and “didn’t have the '60s feel.”
The performances by the four actors captured the audience’s attention, but the lead actor’s unconvincing portrayal of blindness came off more zombie-like and took away from his overall performance.
After starting a bit slow, the action picked up in the second act. The humor sprinkled throughout the play are not as memorable as the lasting impact and sympathy the audience gets from Don’s character. “Don’t leave me because I’m blind, but don’t stay because I’m blind,” he says to Jill in the midst of an argument.
This performance is capable of holding your attention, touching your heart, and producing a few laughs.