THE ODD COUPLE is a one of Neil Simon’s most renown plays, and its production brought much attention to the author’s work. From the play also came the creation of the icons for that which is mismatched, “Oscar and Felix”.
Oscar Madison (Alfred Benelli) is recently divorced, living all alone in sloppy ambience in an eight room apartment in New York City. He has his work as a sportswriter, and his friends, Murray (Howard Algeo), Speed (Jack Witherington), Roy (Walter Bender) Vinnie (Matt Maza) and who gather at his place regularly to play poker. On poker nights, Oscar grumpily serves stale chips and leftover sandwiches and loses money borrowed from friends and fellow players. He also recieves the occassional call from his ex, Blanche, reminding him to send support checks for the family (his self-proclaimed reason for gambling). Yet, Oscar’s life has a certain stability and balance, until the neurotically neat Felix Ungar (Phil Cook), is set loose by Mrs. Ungar to wreak havoc in Oscar’s life. Oscar coaxes Felix to move in with him with, “Chrissakes, I’m proposing to you. What do you want, a ring?” and almost instantly the foibles follow. Felix makes himself at home by experiencing neck, back, ear and sinus problems, replete with sound effects and much suffering (on the parts of both men). Oscar tries to help, but as Felix find fault with that too, Oscar quips, “You make the same sound for pain or pleasure.” Thus the stage is set for things between the two to go further asunder.
In Act II the curtain opens on a neater set. Poker night is in gear, only this time Felix is serving fresh delicious food, making sure everyone using a coaster and a napkin. The poker playing supporting actors bring great reaction and interaction to this scene, as they disband from the game which seems to have been “disinfected”. Oscar is furious with Felix for breaking up the poker night tradition, tells Felix off, but then the Pigeon sisters enter Oscar’s brain and he hatches a plan for a double-date. The appearance of adorable Gwendolyn Pigeon (Cindy Gerhart) and her sister, Cecily (Madeline Wynne), spruces up the action, but, well, they are left alone with Felix the “Tinman”.
It’s just about curtains for Oscar and Felix in Act III, but the cast continues to shine until the last curtain. Great expressions from poker players Algeo, Witherington, Bender and Maza as they react to the Felix’s Pigeon sister coo. Gerhart’s demeanor as she retakes the stage in Act III is well projected. Benelli and Cook prove to be a good match as Oscar and Felix under the direction of Deb Takes. Good synergy on the part of all on stage.
THE ODD COUPLE
by Neil Simon
Directed by Deb Takes
February 11 – 27, 2011
795 Ridge Road
Telford, PA 18969