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The Odd Couple

a Comedy
by Neil Simon

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 4496

SHOWING : September 12, 2013 - September 28, 2013



"The Odd Couple" is Slob versus Neatnik as poker buddies Felix and Oscar suddenly find themselves bachelors again and innocently decide to share an apartment.

Director Barry KING
Roy Sean Casey
Vinnie James Connor
Cecily Pigeon Laura Dietrich
Speed Leo Finocchio
Gwendolyn Pigeon Mary Claire Klooster
Oscar Madison Frank Scozzari
Felix Ungar Rick Thompson
Murray Michael Varga
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Thawed Couple
by playgoer
Sunday, September 29, 2013
In order to work, Neil Simon’s "The Odd Couple" needs to pair slob Oscar Madison and neatnik Felix Unger in ways that show off the chemistry of the pair. It can work with a sardonic, rapid-fire Oscar and an over-the-top emotional wreck Felix. It can also work with a muted, depressed Felix and a bigger-than-life, volcanic Oscar. It doesn’t work, as in Lionheart’s production, with a sardonic Oscar and a muted Felix. The chemistry just isn’t there.

The excitement in the production comes primarily from the minor characters. Mary Claire Klooster and Laura Dietrich, as the cooing Pigeon sisters, add charm to their brief scenes. The poker buddies are what really spark the proceedings. Michael Varga has a terrific look as Murray the cop, although some of his line readings are flat, and Lee Finocchio is flat-out perfection as Speed. James Connor (Vinnie) and Sean Casey (Roy) are both very good, but director Barry King seems to have allowed them to play essentially the same character. More distinction between the two would have been welcomed.

The set, designed by Rick Thompson, works well and looks good, although the molding styles around the doors and openings are hardly consistent. A poker/dining table stage left, a sofa stage right, and a chair center fill up the stage. The decorating scheme doesn’t really scream "bachelor pad," though. Oscar’s wife has left him, and the large apartment doesn’t seem furnished either with pieces she discarded or with pieces Oscar has abused. The blue plush swivel rocker at center doesn’t go with anything else, yet doesn’t seem like a piece Oscar would particularly favor.

Oscar’s costumes are problematic too. Oscar Madison is a self-described slob, but that isn’t reflected at all in his costumes. His T-shirt is neatly tucked into his pressed pants, and the unbuttoned shirt he wears over it at the start is wrinkle-free. His shaved head is neat and tidy too, the complete antithesis of a man who has basically given up on the civilizing aspects of married life. When Oscar’s costumes are tidier than Felix’s, the distinction between the characters is subdued.

Sound design by Bob Peterson is quite pleasant, and other technical aspects of the production work well. Line glitches noted on the opening weekend will probably work themselves out, and the pace of the show is acceptable. There’s just a total lack of excitement when Oscar and Felix are alone together onstage. Director Barry King was confronted with at least three cast changes during the rehearsal period, which can’t have made his job easier, but the end product just doesn’t pass muster. Neil Simon’s lines are as funny as ever, but the overall production disappoints. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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