You know where you are with Neil Simon plays: they are full of humour, witty wordplay and situations which, however absurd, are thought-provoking and with which people can often identify.

Last of the Red Hot Lovers, here directed by Robin Herford, is no exception. It is funny, yet poignant with some delicious one-liners delivered in realistic New York drawl by a couple of actors (Stuart Fox and Laura Doddington) whose natural rapport enriches this fast-moving romp.

The story is about Barney Cashman, a 47-year-old Manhattan fish restaurateur who’s having a midlife crisis. He has no vices, has been married for 23 years to the childhood sweetheart he met when he was 16 and has led a decent, but dull and uneventful, life. He admits that life has been kind to him, ‘so kind, it goes out of its way to ignore me’.

Crucially, this is 1969, the sexual revolution is in full swing and Barney has decided that he wants some of it for himself before he dies. He’s looking for just one meaningful and memorable experience to take to his grave.

To achieve this, he commandeers his mother’s apartment for his secret assignation – a motel room would be ‘too sordid’. When we first meet Barney (a kind of Woody Allen-Leonard Rossiter cross played brilliantly by Fox), he’s testing out the sofa bed, unwrapping two glasses (just bought from Bloomingdales) and a bottle of J&B whisky. But is his heart really in it?

The first woman he invites to this potential passion pad is Elaine, a feisty come-hither sexpot, who’s up for anything and wants to get down to things pronto. Completely out of his comfort zone, Barney talks – and keeps talking – about his Polish roots, his wish for a ‘meaningful’ one-day affair and his menu-writing literary aspirations: ‘sweet, savoury swordfish slithering in a succulent salivary sauce’.

His next seductee is wannabe singer/actress Bobbie who he met in the park and owes him 20 bucks. Barking mad and neurotic, she rooms with a lesbian Nazi vocal coach and keeps bursting into song (great voice incidentally). She talks too - with stories about her kidnapped dog and the cab driver who wanted sex with her under the Manhattan Bridge in his lunch hour. But it’s sheer magic watching the pair getting high on pot (separate spliffs, significantly not shared) then suddenly bursting into song.

Barney’s final dalliance is with sex-starved, buttoned-up Jeannette, his wife’s best friend, who probably ranks as the most gloomy and depressive character ever but who gives Barney cause to deliberate on his future..

Laura Doddington, is superb playing all three female characters and the undoubted chemistry between her and Fox makes this a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

Runs until May 7.

Carol Evans