Play takes comedic look at problems
By Josh Martin, Contributor
The Odd Couple begins by introducing the audience to Oscar (played by Andrew McNee) and his four friends, who seamlessly play poker, drink beer, and eat green and brown sandwiches courtesy of Oscar while firing lines back and forth at one another.
Oscar exemplifies an early 30s, divorced, alcoholic bachelor living in an eight-bedroom, deluxe apartment with a carefree and messy lifestyle. He has his friends over on Friday nights for poker, beer, and banter, and on this particular night one of the guys, Felix (Robert Moloney), shows up in a drunken stupor with thoughts of suicide after the end of his 12-year marriage. After the guys rally Felix, Oscar invites him to move into his home and live there for a while to get his mind straight. Felix obliges and we are instantly thrust into the middle of the cat-and-mouse game between these two characters, with Felix obsessively cleaning Oscar’s garbage trail and sty of an apartment while Oscar continues his carefree lifestyle. This goes on until both characters cannot stand one another.
We even get to meet two young English women, Cecily (Kate Dion-Richard) and Gwendolyn (Sasa Brown), from the flat upstairs who join in on the comedic gag between Oscar and Felix as they come down for a dinner made by Felix. After many awkward conversations, Felix blabbers about the end of his marriage and the two ladies fall for his sensitivity—to Oscar’s disgust. This is the last straw for Oscar and he orders Felix to move out of his apartment at once. Felix leaves and soon after, Oscar finds himself in turmoil, begging for the return of his once-annoying friend.
With writer Neil Simon bringing a comedic approach to these seemingly dark and serious issues in The Odd Couple, you get a suspension of disbelief when entering the world of Oscar and Felix. It touches on suicide, alcoholism, and divorce, yet you leave the theatre smiling and laughing. Writing like that takes a genius to master, and luckily the acting in this portrayal of The Odd Couple did it justice.
The most impressive work from these actors was their technique. The several poker games that take place at Oscar’s apartment have the characters sitting around the table playing poker while eating a sandwich, drinking a beer or scotch, and getting up to do various tasks. These actors have to have all of those aspects completely rehearsed and coincided with one another so that it looks seamless and natural to the audience. They have to deliver their lines in between their actions and make sure that the intention behind the line is clear and direct, all of which takes hours and hours of practice—as was evident in their performance.
One of the most humbling aspects of The Odd Couple is that it’s a very simple concept that is magnified on the value of friendship. Everyone can relate to these characters in some way, shape, or form, and this is an immediate draw to the play. There are flaws in these characters that go unresolved (Oscar’s alcoholism and Felix’s divorce), which is both realistic and a breath of fresh air. It is very deterring when all loose ends in a story get wrapped up nicely at the end of a show. These characters still have flaws that they need to work on—something that everyone can recognize.
Overall, I would highly recommend making it out to the Stanley Theatre and experiencing John Murphy’s version of The Odd Couple. He’s done a wonderful job as director, which is evident in the hard work and polish behind each character. The actors have brought these characters to life with all of their idiosyncrasies and technical work. This is one show you surely can’t miss.
Where: Stanley Theatre
When: Until February 23
Prices: Tickets from $29