Left – Patrick Gibson and Peter Rossi. Cover – Carol Lawton, Patrick Gibson and Megan Langford. Photos – Norm Caddick
In 2002, Neil Simon revamped The Odd Couple but it’s still a classic. This rewritten – but not re-imagined – version titled Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple integrates modernized allusions and elements into the primary storyline concerns the two mismatched roommates.
Patrick Gibson (Felix Ungar) and Peter Rossi (Oscar Madison) manage to make the characters their own without doing anything startling, unforseen or unpredictable. Yet they both seem comfortable in their roles with Oscar appropriately slovenly and Felix suitably fastidious, neurotic, delicate and obsessed with cleanliness. The actors under the direction of Brian Knott, let loose and have fun and with the chemistry between them everything is either amusing or rib-tickling hilarious.
In the original play two British sisters come to dinner but now they are transformed into Spanish sisters. In two lively performances, Megan Langford (Hoolya) and Carol Lawton (Ynez) deliver every one-liner with aplomb.
The other parts, the poker friends, haven't changed but their asides, jokes and quips have been thoroughly rejuvenated with present-day references. The cast are serviceable, with Rob Donnarunna as the curt and acerbic Speed; James King as the hen-pecked Vinnie; Jay Manusco as the dry-witted accountant Roy and Cameron Twiss as NYPD cop Murray. Each succeeds in their dry delivery in their spirited exchanges.
Felix's positive influence on Oscar isn’t as apparent in this version about two best-friends who drive each other mental -- so much so that Oscar, his closest friend, feels compelled to throw Felix out after only a brief time together. However, there is more psychological material and back story regarding Felix’s childhood and his being molly-coddled even as a teenager.
The update works. Oscar and Felix is an amusing and very entertaining piece of theatre.
Adelaide Repertory Theatre presents
Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple
by Neil Simon
Directed by Brian Knott
Venue: The Arts Theatre | 53 Angas St Adelaide,
Dates: 1 – 10 September 2016
Tickets: $22 – $17
Bookings: adelaiderep.com | 8212 5777