The opening show of Theatre Works' 26th season is "The Female Odd Couple". Madison, the slob, and Unger, the cleaning fanatic, are at it again. Olive Madison and Florence Unger, that is, in Neil Simon's 1985 update of his play. Instead of poker, the girls meet every Friday night to play trivial pursuit and the very British Pigeon sisters have been replaced in this version by the hilarious Costazulea brothers. The patterns of Olive and Florence's disastrous marriages begin to reappear so this too must end. Directed by Mark Anderson who also designed and built the apartment set of living room and kitchen, he gives his 8 performers a chance to shine in their individual roles so the audience can enjoy their crazy antics.
The show boasts two strong actresses in the leading roles. Playing the hilarious, sloppy Olive is Karen Bessette DiOrio who is a stand-up comic in real life. She delivers Olive's one liners perfectly, eliciting many laughs from the audience. One of the funniest bits is when Olive who wants to go out with some guys, takes Florence's and puts it on her breast exclaiming, "I need a bigger hand there with hair on the knuckles." Pat Tulli-Hawkridge whom I first saw at RIC in "Kennedy's Children" many years ago, is excellent as the uptight, neatnik, Florence. Her line delivery is superb as well as her hang dog expressions and the crying scene with the brothers is wonderful, too. The expressions and sighs convince the other girls that Flo might try to commit suicide. Karen and Pat's argument scenes crackle with intensity and their reactions to the Spanish brothers are very humorous, too.
The two biggest scene stealers in this show are Shelly Whittle and Steve Slate as Manolo and Jesus, the Spanish brothers. Their entrance brings down the house in gales of laughter. From mispronouncing English words and mangling them to their wild and crazy ties while wearing suits in their first scene. The wild shirts in their last scene are as outlandish as they are. (Sharon Charette always does a topnotch job with her costumes.) They try to woo the two girls but eventually feel sorry of Flo and decide to take her in, defending her against the insults of Olive. The four girls also get their moments to shine in the show. Mark makes each one of them different so you can tell them apart with ease. Lisa Forsgard plays the tough cop, Mickey who bosses the other girls around. Ceci Cardoza plays the hypochondriac who loves dating doctors and complains about not being able to breathe in the apartment due to the Pureatron that Flo purchased to clean out Olive's place. Camille Terilli is a hoot as the ditsy, Vera who dresses in dowdy clothes, saying her husband is very jealous of the way she dresses and goes on vacation to Florida in July because the rates are cheaper. One of her funniest moments occurs as she is eating the sandwich that Flo prepared for her and pushes her head into the dish while her glasses fly off her face. Last but not least is Danielle DeRotto as Sylvie, the sexy member of the group who loves to talk about sex and gossip with the girls during their weekly game. She makes fun of her husband, calling him a penguin because penguins only have sex once in their lifetime. So for a twist on an all time favorite play be sure to catch Theatre Works' "The Female Odd Couple" before time runs out.