Tag: Neil Simon

REVIEW: Moreland Theatre Company Presents THE ODD COUPLE

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.

The Odd Couple

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

REVIEW: Cheeky Theatre Company’s COME BLOW YOUR HORN

Welcome to the ’60s!

By Jennifer Coles

Set in the swinging ’60s and covered in class and charm, Cheeky Theatre Company’s presentation of Come Blow Your Horn is a wonderful return to the fast-paced action of that era. Slick, sophisticated and witty, Neil Simon’s much-acclaimed play is in good hands as handled by the Cheeky Theatre crew, with solid direction, performances and design. Telling the tale primarily of the Baker brothers, Buddy (a hilarious and endearing Simon Alderman) leaves home for the first time as an innocent 21-year-old to move in with his older playboy brother Alan (played with gusto by Antony Talia).

Come Blow Your Horn

In the wrong hands, this play could quite easily become a mess. The dialogue is fast and thick, and requires constant diction and attention. Thankfully, the cast adhere to the brash and bold Brooklyn style and are not afraid to enjoy the dialogue they’ve been given. The jokes are paced well, with clear evidence of solid direction by Craig Irons, and the characterisation is well emphasized and exaggerated for comedic effect. The subtle mannerisms of Buddy’s bundle of nerves are offset wonderfully by the smooth movements of Alan, and the pair have wonderful interplay. In fact, the interaction between the Baker brothers is the highlight of the show, as it is so expertly written by Simon and here delivered by Alderman and Talia. It was also fantastic to see wonderful performances from Lucy Gransbury as the strong and determined Connie, and lighthearted Lucinda Burney as the contrasting Peggy.

Since the Warehouse is a somewhat unusual space to work in, The Cheeky Theatre Company used it to their advantage. Because there was no stage to speak of, the actors weren’t afraid to get close to the audience, and it was like we’d been transported back to the time period and were quietly observing this little piece of history. However, this proximity did sometimes result in the actors ‘stepping out of the light’ every so often, which can be fixed easily. And apart from a few opening-night jitters, the space was used well.

For a first performance, this production of Come Blow Your Horn was incredibly strong, and will no doubt have a stellar season. So take trip back to the 60’s with the Cheeky Theatre Company- it’s a blast!

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street

Season: Until September 14
Tues – Sat: 8pm, Sun: 5pm

Price: Full $32, Conc $26

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=58045

Review: THE PRODUCTION COMPANY presents Promises, Promises

A rare chance to see a superb show

By Adam Tonking

The Production Company’s Promises, Promises stars Matt Hetherington as Chuck Baxter, a low-level accountant in a huge corporation, struggling to be noticed both by his bosses while the girl of his dreams, waitress Fran Kubelik is played by much-loved Marina Prior in ever-reliable form. The show itself is genius, taking a filmic masterpiece in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, and adapting  it to the stage with glorious music from Burt Bacharach, complete with his exciting and idiosyncratic shifts in meter and harmony. Add to this Neil Simon’s witty and skilfully crafted dialogue, and Hal David’s heartfelt lyrics – how could this show not be amazing?

Hetherington turns his Jack-Lemmon charm on the audience from overture to finale, particularly in the number “She Likes Basketball.” The supporting leads, Chelsea Plumley and Robert Grubb, also gave stellar performances. Plumley was either sorely underused, or used to perfection, playing a small cameo role in one of the most entertaining scenes in the show. She trod a beautiful line between dignity and a complete shambles, all delivered with perfect comic timing and fully-realised characterisation. Grubb was perfectly cast as Dr. Dreyfuss, turning something of a sourpuss into a loveable curmudgeon.

I was delighted to see the orchestra on stage. Half the joy of music theatre for me is the visceral experience of live musicians, and watching them under the tight direction of Guy Simpsonwas pure bliss. The ensemble were spectacular – and aren’t the ensemble the most underappreciated aspect of any show?

Here though, “Turkey Lurkey Time” and “A Fact Can Be A Beautiful Thing” were beautifully executed, and two of the best numbers in the production thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of the ensemble. Particular mention should be given to Hester Van Der Vyver, who with her small but pivotal role as Miss Olsen, came close to stealing the show.

The Production Company has enjoyed a brilliant year with its inspired choices, and their production of Promises, Promises ends it beautifully. In excitedly looking forward to their 2013 program, I can only suggest that you quickly rush to see this too-seldom performed, absolute gem of a show.

Promises, Promises is on at the State Theatre, October 3 to October 7. Book at artscentremelbourne.com.au or call 1300 182 183.