‘Odd Couple’ brings out the laughs

Lesie Silverman

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” is playing at the Black Hills Playhouse. And despite some small opening night mic issues the production is a unique take on an old favorite.
The story is simple. Felix Unger turns to his best friend, Oscar Madison, when his 12-year marriage ends. Madison and Unger are quite different and learn to navigate together as roommates.
The comedy explores the difficulties of learning to live with another person as well as how to cope after the end of a marriage.
Oscar has been a bachelor for quite some time and is eager to move on with his life while Felix, freshly separated, has some reservations, amplified by nis extreme neurotic tendencies.
During the course of the storyline Felix learns more about his strengths and weaknesses as a relationship partner and although Oscar is often blunt with him, his true love for his friend is always the motivation.
Felix and Oscar,  are played by veteran Black Hills Playhouse actors  Dan Workman and Jeff Kingsbury. Workman delivers a wonderful performance as Oscar Madison. He is a master of both his voice and his mannerisms to create his version of the quintessential grouchy, yet lovable, sloppy character. Kingsbury does a good job playing Felix but perhaps overplays the whining nature of the character while downplaying his overly neat obsessive compulsive nature.
In fact the only disappointment in the entire production was the lack of consistent character development in these main characters. Oscar, for example, is seen hanging up his coat rather than tossing it onto the couch. His appearance, right down to the tie he ties correctly, lacks the  disheveled look one might expect. Felix, too, misses the physical opportunity to be uncontrollably  tidy even if the dialogue illustrates his character’s tendencies.
A strict “Odd Couple” fan might cringe at these discrepancies.
While Felix and Oscar are onstage most of the time it is the supporting cast that truly makes this production pop.
The main characters are surrounded by their poker friends including murray the cop, Roy the accountant, Speed and Vinnie,  played by  Justin Speck. Speck is a master of his character, a nervous slight man.
His mannerisms never cease as he vacillates from antsy  to worry. The small mannerisms, like the fidgeting of his fingers or the squirming in his seat  makes his character come to light.
The Pigeon Sisters  are pure comic genius.
Andrea Moore, who plays Gwendolyn, and Mary Trotter, who plays Cecily, are phenomenal.
From their “cuckoo” laugh to Moore’s fluttering eye blinking, the two actresses are the embodiment of Simon’s comedic  vision. They keep the second act flowing with laughter from the moment they hit the stage.
The writing in the Odd Couple is of course sheer hilarity, with fast give and takes and hilarious one liners.
The production runs approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with a brief intermission. Although rated PG, it was well attended by young and old alike, with numerous families in attendance. The opening night performance received a standing ovation and a constant barrage of laughs from the audience.


User login