The Odd Couple is a Play You Won’t Want To Miss
You may know The Odd Couple as the cult classic 1970’s TV show starring Tony Randal and Jack Klugman. Or maybe as the current Thursday night CBS sitcom with Matthew Perry. It was also a movie in 1968 with Art Carney and Walter Matthau. But before all these iterations, there was the original 1965 stage play by Neil Simon. It’s a timeless and classic piece of theatre that, as the current Soulpepper run demonstrates, is just as enjoyable and relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise or plot, here’s a quick rundown. Oscar Madison (Albert Schultz) is a recently divorced playboy sportswriter living the bachelor life in his massive yet monstrously messy New York apartment. When the marriage of his closest friend and neurotic neat freak, Felix Ungar (Diego Matamoros), suddenly comes crashing down, these two soon find themselves in an awkward roommate situation. With such contrasting personalities, conflict – and in turn, hilarity – is bound to ensue.
While this isn’t Soulpepper’s first run of The Odd Couple, there’s plenty to love about this production, even if you’ve seen it before. Under the direction of Stuart Hughes, the ensemble cast of Schultz and Matamoros as Oscar and Felix, their poker buddies John Jarvis, Kevin Bundy, Derek Boyes, and Oliver Dennis, as well as Raquel Duffy and Sarah Wilson as the fabulously campy Pigeon sisters all share an onstage rapport that’s a delight to watch. Each actor made the character truly his or her own by adapting the little quirks of their persona in ways that were original and different than previous portrays in television or film.
The example that most stood out for me was Matamoros’ take on Felix clearing his sinuses. There was an almost melodic quality to the way he cleared his nasal passages, which for me was a fresh take on the more panicked (yet iconic) approaches immortalized by Tony Randal and Art Carney. Its these little interpretive liberties that make you feel like you’re watching something new, and not just a rehash of a classic. Most importantly, however, each performance felt natural and there was no over-acting whatsoever, which is especially crucial when the situation and subject matter is so down to earth.
I think it should also be noted that for this review, I attended a Wednesday night showing and it wasn’t opening night. I often hear back from people that some shows eventually lose their luster mid-run. But that wasn’t the case here. What I saw on stage was of the highest calibre.
With writing this timelessly sharp and poignant, and larger than life acting that could give classic stars Tony Randall and Jack Klugman a run for their money, the current Soulpepper run of The Odd Couple is without a doubt a play you won’t want to miss this theatre season.
- The Odd Couple runs until June 11th at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane). Click here for a specific listing of show times.
- Tickets will run you upwards of $32 and are available online, in person at the Young Centre box office or by calling 416-866-8666
- Running time for the production is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, with two 15 minute intermissions
Photo Credit: Albert Schultz and Diego Matamoros by Cylla von Tiedemann