Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Odd Couple"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"The Odd Couple"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Granite Theatre's latest production of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" is a pleasant night of merriment for one and all. The well know story about sloppy Oscar taking in cleaning fanatic, Felix Unger after his wife Frances throws is given in new twist in this version making them twin brothers. Throw in four poker playing buddies and two scene stealing Pigeon sisters and you have one of Neil Simon's best plays from the 1960's.

David Jepson not only directs this show but plays the role of Felix, too. He and twin brother, Michael play their roles to the hilt. Michael is wonderful as the grouchy Oscar. He brings the loudmouth, always broke, blustery, bossy but in the end good hearted character to life.Some of Michael's expressions remind one of Walter Matthau. He and David play well against each other in these lead roles. David plays the difficult role of Felix very well. He makes the hangdog expressions, the clearing of his nose, the stiff neck, hurt back and arm and a sore throat, fresh and new for the appreciative audience. The best moments in the show are the crying scene between Felix and the two sisters and Oscar's mistaken reading of FU on a note left on his pillow. These two scenes are hysterical bringing the deserved laughter they both deserve. Great job as contrasting twin brothers.

Their card playing cronies are all wonderful in their roles and their characterizations and facial expressions. David gives them each the correct stage business so you know who is who from the start of the show. Cigar chomper and tough guy, Speed is played by Jimmy Pollitt. He complains and argues with the others and yells orders right back at Oscar, giving Speed, the edgy quality he needs. Greg Bliven makes Murrray, the cop, who always knows the right answers and is always hungry, a funny and bumbling authority figure. Jason Colvin as Roy, Oscar's alimony worrying accountant and someone who is always too hot or can't breath. He brings this ggasping for air, worrywart to life in his second appearance on stage. Frank Sinischalchi as Vinnie rounds out this quartet. His nervous behavior and the commentary on the food especially in the BLT eating scene is very humorous.

Last but not least are the sexy scene stealing Pigeon sisters. Michelle Messina Johnson as Gwendolyn and Diane Foster as Cecily. Their British accents, and wonderful line delivery bring about much laughter. The crying scene with Felix, their giggling with Oscar and the final scene where they stand up to Oscar in Felix's defense are splendid. A delightful duo who are a hoot! Kudos to David and producer Paul Lynch for bringing this delightful comedy to the Granite.

"The Odd Couple" (till 22 July)
1(401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide