Happy 'Odd Couple' Day: a review

November 13, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Fans of '70s sitcom will recall that Nov. 13 is the day that Felix Ungar's wife threw him out, "requesting that he never returns."

Well, Nov. 13 is also the day that I'm telling you that "The Odd Couple," the Neil Simon play that lead to that sitcom (which included that narrated intro), is alive and well and in the very capable hands of Actors Theatre of Indiana, where it runs through Nov. 17. 

The premise of this Broadway smash is simple. Neat freak Felix, tossed out by his wife, moves in with slob friend Oscar Madison, whose wife threw him out not so long ago. The two attempt to navigate life together and high hilarity results. And I do mean high. I laughed more consistently at this production than I can recall laughing at anything in recent memory on Indiana stages.

Credit is due Simon, of course, whose plays have seemingly fallen out of favor in the theater world. (I can't think of the last one professionally produced here.) Simon's series of comedies that appeal to a wide-ranging audience lost their cachet in a world of $100+ Broadway tickets. But, as illustrated here in his best-known work, the man is a master at creating specific, very funny characters who, when smartly directed and acted, feel like they have lives both onstage and off. 

That's the case here. Oh, Bradley Reynolds' Felix may over-enunciate a bit too much for the intimate Studio Theater. And Don Farrell inherently doesn't fit the craggy Oscar familiar from TV and film. But together they deliver not only the punchlines but also the underlying affection that keeps the two from actually strangling each other. They come across as they should: As friends who drive each other crazy, not as stock characters manipulated by a writer. 

The standouts here, though, come from the supporting cast. The poker buddies, essential to getting the show off on a fun footing, are terrific. I was going to highlight Darrin Murrell as the dyspeptic Murray, but then I smiled thinking about Jeremy Grimmer's awkward Vinnie...and Adam O' Crowe's fed up Speed...and Dave Ruark's chain smoking accountant Roy. All big fun.

And then there are the Pigeon Sisters, as personified by Katy Gentry and Carrie Fedor (with the assistance of costume designer Margaret Ozemet). Unique creations, both, managing to be goofy, sensitive, oddly sexy, and, most importantly, very, very funny in their two showcase scenes. If only Simon had written a spin-off for them...

But Simon has written many more plays. And here's hoping first-time ATI director Jeff Stockberger gets to guide more of them in the near future. 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Loved it too!
    We've never gone to an Actor's Theatre production that's been anything other than wonderful. This had us laughing til we cried. Season tickets for us next year!
    • Spot on, Lou!
      I was pleasantly surprised how well the material held up after all these years. Still funny and fresh, actually. I agree about the supporting players; I found I was most involved when there were more than two people in a scene .The guys around the poker table had some great timing and hilarious moments. Loved it when the cast/crew worked together in those "stylized" scene changes, too. Nice evening for the price.
    • Agreement
      OK, to begin with, the word is cachet, not cache. But, that grammatical aspect aside, I agree: this is a marvelous play, Neil Simon has fallen out of favor through no fault of his own, his plays are truly delightful...

    Post a comment to this blog

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

    2. Shouldn't this be a museum

    3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

    4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

    5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

    ADVERTISEMENT