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 had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

    2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

    3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

    4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

    5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

    ADVERTISEMENT