“Odd Couple” excellent

By Alidor Aucoin on May 15, 2008

The Odd Couple is a time tested, proven draw.  The one-liners that  fly around the Segal Centre's production of the two mismatched colocataires, finicky Felix (Rod Beattie) and "divorced, broke and sloppy" Oscar, (John Evans) can still pull laughs 40 years after Neil Simon's comedy made its Broadway debut. Everyone who has ever been stuck with an offensive roommate can relate.

The task confronting director Diana Leblanc in this convivial production that runs until May 25 is to breathe fresh life into a popular vintage piece that has been a movie, a television series, and recently rewritten as a stage play for women.

Leblanc's version of the Odd Couple has a lazy, unforced rhythm. You aren't always sure why you are laughing, but it is still fun. In taking on the the role of Oscar Madison, John Evans gallops around in his red sweat pants like a goofy gazelle. Rod Beattie brings more depth to his character of Felix.

Yes, he's a constipated owl, but instinctively you sense that there is more to him that.  Both are funny in their own spheres, but there's little genuine affection between them. The chemistry between the leads is a little wonky. You don't really believe that beneath the constant carping the two guys are or could ever be close friends, let alone roommates.

The jokes hold up well (Felix is "the only man in the world who wears a seat belt in a drive-in movie").

Yannick Larivée's set deftly captures the 60's atmosphere of the eight room apartment, down to the crumpmled Look magazines scattered about, the wilted plant and the state of the art Scandanavian furnishings.

Jennifer Morehouse and Brigit Wilson as the Pigeon sisters are deliciously vacant and delightfully dressed in 1960s Carnaby Street fashion.

Oscar's gang of poker playing friends is fine, with an especially amusing account of Murray the cop from Glen Bowser. All that's missing from Mike Patterson¹s Speed is a cigar clenched between his teeth. Marcel Jeanin and Mike Rosenstein round out the team nicely, but in bowing to political correctness,  the poker sessions are rather antiseptic. There's no smoke hanging in the first act's dirty apartment. All in all, this Odd Couple is an entertaining and amusing piece of theatre. I only wish there were cigars. 


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