March 7, 2015
T. Waller : Guest Reviewer
While Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” has played all around the world in the fifty years since it opened on Broadway in 1965, it remains a classic piece of human interaction. In fact it’s like a time capsule. Oscar Madison (Kip Gilman) has opened up his recently “wife vacated” bachelor pad and is serving some “very new cheese or very old meat sandwiches.” Alpha male Oscar entertains the poker players: Murray, the cop (Brian Abraham), Speed (Eddie Kehler), Roy (John Massy) and Vinnie (David Nevell). The band of buddies becomes caring and concerned when they get a call that Felix, ejected by his wife, has disappeared and has maybe sent a telegram… his suicide note?
Timing and delivery, classic Neil Simon, is what makes the play work. All Mr. Simon had to do was put the moody, obsessively neat and uptight Felix Unger (Maxwell Caulfield) and the sloppy, easygoing sports writer, Oscar Madison under the same roof: Voila! The Odd Couple. Felix has strong but very human reactions that cause rough and tough Oscar to have moments of caring and guilt. Each of these complex characters is as perfect as an Unger set dinner table.
Oscar invites Felix to move in for half of the $250.00 rent. Eight rooms. (It’s 1965!). Friday night poker continues. At first, the guys enjoy some of Felix’s obsessive-compulsive ways. They attempt to use coasters for his gourmet snacks but quickly realize it is all just too much. Their poker cards have been deodorized! The room is filled with Lysol spray instead of cigar smoke. In time, Oscar has had enough of home cooked meals, and Felix’s endless chatter. The interchange when Oscar decides they both need “something soft” becomes touching when a double date is arranged with the two Pigeon sisters who live in Oscar’s building. Perfectly cast Gwendolyn (Erica Schindele) and Cicily (Alyson Lindsay) are spot on 1960’s “English birds.”
Former “Oscars and Felixes”: Messrs. Matthau and Klugman; Carney, Lemmon and Randall may be excused. Director Andrew Barnicle’s version of THE ODD COUPLE has to be equally as enjoyable as it was on opening night at Broadway’s Plymouth Theatre almost fifty years ago to the day.
THE ODD COUPLE
By Neil Simon
March 4th through March 29th, 2015
The Laguna Playhouse
606 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: 949.497.ARTS (2787)