Barefoot in the Park begins with Corie Bratter’s rapturous examination of her empty apartment. She is interrupted by Harry Pepper, a repairman who has come to install the Bratters’ new telephone. Not only is it a six-flight climb, but also the apartment is extremely cold because it has no working heating system. After the repairman leaves, Paul Bratter arrives, out of breath and freezing. He is twenty-six, conservative, and very excited about getting his first court case. Because of this assignment, however, there will be little time to celebrate being in the new apartment. The only things that distract Paul are the apartment’s temperature and the large hole in the skylight.
Mrs. Ethel Banks, Corie’s widowed mother, is an unexpected guest; she is not especially captivated by the apartment, although she tries to disguise her disappointment. Mrs. Banks is at loose ends; her life has no direction. Before she leaves, Mrs. Banks is given a firm piece of advice by Corie: She must plunge into life in the hope of finding someone to love.
Paul returns from an errand with news about the denizens of the building, especially Victor Velasco, who lives in the attic. After Paul begins working on his brief, Corie, left alone in the living room, meets Velasco, who has come to ask permission to use their bedroom window as a path to his apartment, which has been locked because he is behind with the rent. He immediately charms Corie, who realizes that she has found a dinner companion for her mother. Act 1 ends with Corie making dinner plans and a stunned Paul watching through the skylight as Velasco carefully makes his way along the outside ledge to his apartment.
The first scene of act 2 begins on a Friday evening four days later. The apartment is almost completely furnished, though in an eclectic style. Corie rushes in, followed by Paul, who has not had the most pleasant of days and is hardly in the mood for a social evening. It is he who warns Corie that pairing her mother with Velasco might not be a particularly good idea, because not only is her mother not expecting a dinner companion, but she and Velasco also have very different ways of dealing with life.
Mrs. Banks arrives excited at the prospect of meeting Paul’s parents again—or so Corie has told her. Her blind date with Velasco is disclosed just as he arrives with a plate of...
(The entire section is 976 words.)