Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Odd Couple"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"The Odd Couple"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone The third show of Attleboro Community Theater's 54th season is Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple". It is a timeless classic that focuses on the relationship between two friends trying to restart their lives after they both go through messy breakups of their marriages. It is also a serious story of friendship and how bonds can be tested and even broken if not handled with care. It is the well known story of sloppy Oscar Madison taking in cleaning fanatic Felix Ungar after his wife Frances throws him out of the house. The story focuses on its two main characters but the audience rapidly comes to appreciate the cameo roles of the other characters including their poker playing buddies, Murray, the cop, Speed, the smoker, Roy, Oscar's accountant and Vinnie, the sandwich eater. Throw in the scene stealing British Pigeon sisters and you have the necessary ingredients for the joyous, boisterous comic romp that follows.

Director Billy Castro chooses topnotch performers for these roles. He gives them excellent characterizations and shtick to do which brings out their full potential. Billy blocks the show beautifully especially and adds a clever addition to the show with Chris Gaulin and Chrissa Bennett playing a married couple. The husband is trying to watch the Odd Couple on TV with the wife constantly nagging him to do errands for her. Billy found some hilarious 1960's commercials and film clips of Hootenanny and Lawrence Welk. Kevin Boisse built a fantastic set for the show and Billy's assistant directors are Alex Aponte and Beverly Darling. Stage manager Barbara McCarthy keeps things running smoothly all night long. Josh Palace handles the difficult role of the neurotic, Felix. He clears his throat, hurts his arm throwing an empty glass, sulks and has wonderful hang dog expressions. Josh's Felix tells Oscar off in a humorous scene but the most hilarious scene is when he blows up at Oscar for being late for dinner while waving his ladle at him. Other comic gems occur when he cries with the two sisters about Frances and his two children which endears him to the British gals. Josh wins many laughs with his comic portrayal. Lenny Contaxes plays the loudmouth Oscar fabulously. His slow burn and exasperation at Felix's anal and annoying behavior is terrific. Lenny's throwing of the potato chips and the cards, telling off Felix in the last scene with the FU line, walking on the sofa and when he throws the linguini at the kitchen wall are hilarious. Oscar is always broke, blustery, bossy, and in the end good hearted under his gruff exterior. He and Josh make a marvelous odd couple in this version of this classic tale.

Their card playing cronies bring their characters to life, making it easy to figure out who is who and doing a topnotch job while doing so. Anthony Paola does a nice job as Murray, the blustery policeman who is the funny authority figure in his scenes. Paul Oliver does a topnotch job as Vinnie, the cheapskate who goes to Florida in July to save money. His nervous behavior and comments on the BLT on toasted pumpernickel that Felix made him without the crust is one of his funniest scenes in the show. Jason Arundale plays the cigarette smoking, Speed. He is bossy, high strung and constantly yells at Murray and Vinnie from discussing food during the poker game. Speed also loves sports and argues with Oscar during his outbursts during the poker game. Jason is terrific in this role, commanding the stage. Director Billy Castro does double duty in this show and plays Roy who is Oscar's accountant and worries about him losing Blanche's alimony money at the poker games in the first act and in the second act complains that he can't breathe in the too clean apartment that Felix has created. He is fantastic and energetic in this role. I directed Billy in this role in 2005 for Academy Players. The two actresses who play the Pigeon sisters, Katie Ann DeFilippo as Gwendolyn and Ashley Dougan as Cecily, are hilarious with their perfect British accents. They steal the scene with their humorous antics which include their crying scene with Felix, their giggling on the sofa while talking to Oscar and their final scene where they tell Oscar off for his ill treatment of Felix. So for a fun filled evening of this well known show, be sure to catch ACT's version before time runs out.

"The Odd Couple" (11 - 27 February)
@ 71 Main Street, ATTLEBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide