Neil Simon’s THE ODD COUPLE is best known as a ‘60s and ‘70s staple of stage and screen, the comic story of a pair of mismatched middle aged roommates. In 1985, Simon decided to update the popular play, with a twist. The result, THE ODD COUPLE, FEMALE VERSION, is even funnier than the original, and a natural choice for The Candlelight Theatre’s non-musical special engagement.
As Olive (the messy one) and Florence (the neat one), Tori Healy and Gerri Weagraff bring not only the necessary opposite personalities to their characters, they also make you believe that, despite their differences, they are good friends who care about each other. Aside from their housekeeping habits, their previous married lives were very different: Flo was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker who doted on her husband; Olive was the breadwinner, a sports TV producer with no kids who, despite her clear independence and no need for marital support, is still a bit hung up on her ex, and secretly likes that he still needs her, if only to ask for money.
As the story goes, Flo is dumped by her husband and Olive asks her to move in to her disaster area of an apartment so they can keep each other company, and the place is quickly turned upside-down by Flo’s fastidiousness. The apartment looks nice, but you can cut the tension with a knife.
While the story centers on Olive and Flo, there is an ensemble of characters, including “the girls,” the group of friends who get together at Olive’s once a week for Trivial Pursuit. Sylvie (Tiffany Christopher), Mickey (Lindsay Mauck), Renee (Erin Waldie), and Vera (Kate Graham) are full of personality, and seem to add more to the story than the poker group in the original. There’s something about a group of grown women hanging out that’s just fun to watch — it’s not something you see every day on stage.
While the play is predominantly women, there are a couple of men. The Costazuela brothers (Dan Healy and Anthony Connell) act as casual love interests for Olive and Flo, with most of their laughs coming from the Spanish/English language barrier. It’s the most dated humor in the play, but it’s well-delivered, and the scene where Olive and Flo are preparing for the date is one of the best parts of the show.
The only odd thing about this production of THE ODD COUPLE is that it says it’s set in the present, which was certainly true when Simon wrote it in the ‘80s. Today, it’s almost a period piece, with its retro style, Trivial Pursuit complete with 30 year old questions, and and old corded telephone as a main set piece. And that’s a good thing. THE ODD COUPLE, FEMALE VERSION is a nice piece of nostalgia, even as an updated version of the classic.
THE ODD COUPLE, FEMALE VERSION
by Neil Simon
Directed by Bob Kelly
June 6 – 22, 2014
The Candlelight Theatre
2208b Millers Rd,
Ardentown, DE 19810