Theater Review: The Odd Couple
© The Flash List | March 25, 2013
Dallas Theater Center at Wyly Theatre
Play written by Neil Simon, Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Local actors shine in supporting roles in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.
In a quaint (but extremely messy) apartment on Riverside Drive in New York City in 1965, a group of buds gather for their weekly game of poker (or, more accurately, “po-kah”). John Taylor Phillips (who plays Murray, a typical off-duty New York cop) joins three accomplished members of Dallas Theater Center’s Brierley Resident Acting Company for a hodgepodge of character personalities consisting of the scrappy, impatient Speed (portrayed by Lee Trull), the nerdy, horn-rimmed-glasses wearing Vinnie (Chamblee Ferguson), and the common-sense, levelheaded Roy (Hassan El-Amin).
New York based actor J. Anthony Crane plays the resident slob Oscar Madison (doused in Brut and sportin' a backwards ball cap) with the comical stylings of Jack Klugman (the 1970’s television counterpart) peppered with some Nick the bartender from It’s a Wonderful Life (video) and just a bit of Joey Tribbiani from Friends (video). Soon arriving on the brink of self-destruction after a marital break-up, neat freak hypochondriac Felix Ungar (Broadway and film actor Michael Mastro) sends the cast into a tizzy and an intervention of sorts as he admits to swallowing a handful of unidentified pills and realizing that “it takes two to make a rotten marriage.”
The highly architectural thrust stage set design (Timothy R. Mackabee) is replete with stately crown moldings, vintage furnishings, a retro rotary dial telephone, vinyl record albums, table-top doilies, and even a sherbet-green upright vacuum cleaner which the bow-tie clad Felix puts to use during one of his “cooking, cleaning, crying” spells. A new kind of domestic quarrel develops when Oscar invites Felix to move in and the ensuing personality clash escalates into a beer spewing, potato chip exploding, pickle flying, comedy fest which ultimately results in Oscar’s exasperated declaration of “Unless we can come to some other agreement, I’m going to kill you!” To ease the tension (though inadvertently increasing it), the two guys schedule a double date (which predictably goes awry) with British sisters Cecily Pigeon (Mia Antoinette Crow) and Gwendolyn Pigeon (Tiffany Hobbs, a member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company with a hearty laugh that is utterly infectious).
True to the standard sitcom formula, there is a thought-provoking inspirational lesson to be learned at the end the rope. In the words of our wise pal Murray, who could also be referring to types like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory (see video), “We know [Oscar]’s impossible, but he’s still our friend.”
During the first of two intermissions during this three-act play, you’ll definitely want to think about staying in your seat in order to watch how the stage is transformed from its Oscar-inspired chaotic clutter to the Felix-styled decorative tidiness. (Plus, you can take advantage of the in-house go-go dance music). The Odd Couple runs through Sunday, April 14, 2013 with tickets starting as low as $15.00.
Feel free to take part in Dallas Theater Center's Come Early program, an informative 30-minute lecture that will be offered at no cost before every performance of every play at DTC. Beginning one hour before each show in the Wells Fargo Come Early Lounge, you can hear a member of the cast or artistic staff share the play's origin and context as well as insight into the creative process behind the production. You may also stay late afterward for the free, brief, post-show conversation with a cast member (sponsored by Dr Pepper Snapple Group) where you can interact with the artists and hear dialogue about various interpretations from other audience members.