Classic comedy revisited
By Margaret Wieringa
Oscar is a happy-go-lucky divorcee who has his mates over every Friday night to play poker in the squalor of his apartment. When Felix his uptight buddy suddenly becomes single, Oscar saves him from his despair by allowing him to move in. However it is clear that Felix’s obsessive cleanliness and Oscar’s carelessness cannot exist together happily for long.
In this production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, the poker game is underway as the audience comes in, and once the show starts, we meet four likable New Yorkers, wisecracking and ribbing each other (Lloyd Bissell, Travis Handcock, Nick Lawson and Riley Nottingham). It’s the scenes with these guys I liked the most, especially when Oscar and Felix are thrown into the mix. The accents are good and consistent and the characters are held strongly by all throughout. Unfortunately however, at times some of the jokes seemed to have been sacrificed in order to keep the accents accurate. But with a Neil Simon script, if you miss one joke, you only need to wait a moment for another.
Brian Edmond does a fine job playing the slobby Oscar, capturing the sarcastic humour and the element of nastiness of the character but still allowing his heart to shine through. His performance is contrasted nicely with the entrance of David Lawson-Smith as Felix, especially with the variety of ailments he suffers in his first fifteen minutes onstage. These two were able to draw the audience in to the lives of the men, but were the most enjoyable when interacting with the larger cast. The delightful English accents of the two extremely fashionable ladies (Andrea Mentlikowski and Teresa Noble) were a breath of fresh air, just when the tension between the two men was getting to be enough.
While there seemed to be something odd with the floor (many of the characters were literally sliding about in a distracting manner), the set was fabulous, especially the wonderful wallpaper and the scruffy crocheted couch cushions that captured the life of a man living amongst things his wife abandoned.
It’s worth braving the wonderful Melbourne winter we’re loving at the moment for an evening of laughter.
When: July 17-19 & 23-26 at 8pm with a 2pm matinee on July 19
Where: Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Tickets: $20 full, $15 concession, groups 8+, $15 on Weds 23.
To book: call 0426 577 346 or www.trybooking.com/FBVE