Mix one part slob with one part clean-freak, then add a card table, place a mix of irritable middle-aged men around it, throw in finger sandwiches, coasters, and two English birds, and what do you get? A quirky comedy that proves opposites attract, especially if it’s two best friends in need.
It’s always boys night at a newly-made bachelor’s apartment. The first act opens on a card game being played amongst random clothes strewn about an untidy set. The card players consist of a varied group of friends, each with their own gripes. Whether it’s about the choice of food and/or beverages or about marital issues, there’s no shortage of things to complain about.
As the first act progresses we see the diverse personalities of each character. Vinnie (Don Polec) is classy in his suspenders and bow-tie. With a card game winning streak and plans to vacation, it seems as though he’s the one with the least to complain about. Speed (Richard Blanck) makes up for any lack of dissatisfaction, since his gruff tone throughout the play deems him as the token crotchety old man. Roy (Bruce Perlman) seems to be the worrier of the group. As an accountant, it’s understandable where he may have learned to be concerned. As a no-nonsense policeman, Murray (Jeff Dworkin) keeps his cool when playing cards, talking to his wife, or enjoying game night refreshments. Each character adds a new dynamic to the group, and each actor consistently delivers lines that strike both humorous and serious chords.
Oscar Madison (Jeff Pilchman) is the distinguished host of these male gatherings. Recently divorced, Oscar has been leading the life of a laid-back bachelor, and signs of this lifestyle can be seen in his relaxed wardrobe and (lack of) organizational skills. Oscar’s attitude matches his chill personality, and even if his temper flares he may raise his voice, but not his tone. This straight-forward style is similar to a stand-up comedy routine, and Pilchman succeeds in raising laughter in the audience with this acting choice.
Felix Ungar (Matthew Maher) is coming to terms with his new divorced status. Of course, he doesn’t let this affect his unsullied appearance or his OCD. Even though he’s more uptight than his bachelor brother-in-arms, his compulsive quirks are just as entertaining. The yin and yang relationship between Felix and Oscar is heightened when they move in together, thus bringing out the best and worst in both of them.
When women are added to the mix, all bets are off. Sisters Gwendolyn (Morgaine Ford-Workman) and Cecily Pigeon (Joy Sarcewicz) take their neighborly duties seriously when they arrive at Oscar’s apartment and welcome Felix to the building. These sisters are as different as sisters can be. Cecily is a little more forward than her sister and takes on an old english quality with a gravelly tone of voice. Gwendolyn’s English accent sounds more modern, and her forgetfulness makes her seem naive. When it may look like these sisters will drive Felix and Oscar apart, we see the two starkly different friends come together, proving that no matter how odd the couple, some friendships last forever.
THE ODD COUPLE
by Neil Simon
Directed by John Rasiej
February 20-26, 2013
Newtown Arts Company
120 North State Street
Newtown, PA 18940