Play, film - any way you slice it, one of my all time favourites.
There are classic lines, clever lines, quick-witted insults and snarky remarks at every turn. Clever classic and comedic. In my opinion, the three C's of entertainment.
Cut to: Valentine’s Day 2014 - When my mismatched other half sprung for tickets to our neighborhood theatre - The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. In celebration of our differences and toleration of one another we were going to see The Odd Couple as it was originally intended to be seen - in the flesh. It wasn’t my first time; I’ve seen it performed before. Years ago a girlfriend of mine played one of the Pigeon Sisters, Gwendolyn or Cecily - who the hell knows.
Boyfriend is Felix to my Oscar. Like most people we both have bits of the opposing character loitering in our psyche. However, Boyfriend does have that fastidious OCD thing in spades. There's a place for everything and everything in its place. I on the other hand, am a little more cavalier about things. He'd say I like to set traps for him around the apartment - I say my clothes and shoes simply fall where they may - it's not like my rogue socks lie in wait for unsuspecting bare ankles to wander by.
The Arts Club production of The Odd Couple was fantastic, not to mention a bunch of other complimentary adjectives. I laughed, I did not cry. I did however, annoyingly whisper lines into Boyfriend’s ears seconds before they were delivered on stage. Fun was had by one and all - and by all, I mean me.
In my unprofessional opinion, the casting was superb. The card game gang was perfect in their comedic timing and improvisation. When a rogue pickle flew from the stage into the front row and then was promptly flung back onto the stage – Odd Couple pal; Roy (played by Alec Willows) calmly picked up the pickle that had done its rounds on a selection of floors, and popped it casually into his mouth. With the audience in gales of laughter, the actors kept it together expertly.
Andrew McNee's interpretation of Oscar stole the show. His laid-back sloppiness to Felix’s (Robert Moloney) exceedingly high-strung anxiousness was impeccable. I'm not even remotely close to a theatre critic so I don’t know how similar the film is to the play. Presumably because Neil Simon wrote the play and subsequently adapted it for film it's pretty similar. How much artistic license do directors take when interpreting a classic like this? All I know is, being highly familiar with the Walter Matthau/Jack Lemon version, I was in no way disappointed (as I sometimes can be when it comes theatre). Most of us grow up watching movies. We often have cinematic expectations. It’s generally only later in life that we see actors portraying some of our favourites on stage. I’ve been disappointed in the past. Not so with The Stanley’s presentation of The Odd Couple.
The bad news: It’s over in less than a week. So get on it Inhabiters! Do yourself a solid and take your favourite nemesis out for an evening or afternoon of cultural excellence. If all else fails, revisit the 1968 film.
Thanks Neil Simon for being a genius - and thanks Arts Club Theatre for doing his genius justice.