The Odd Couple delivers a belly laugh

It took just minutes for laughter to reverberate throughout the Comedy Theatre at the opening night of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.

The set, static and unaltered throughout the entire performance and decked out in retro embellishments, sets the scene. It depicts a complete apartment featuring a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, a bathroom and living space.

The show kicks-off with an extended back and forth scene, featuring star of screen and stage Shane Jacobson who plays newly divorced Oscar, alongside actors Laurence Coy, Anthony Taufa, John Batchelor, and Jamie Oxenbould.

They portray a group of friends engaged in a chaotic poker game, each character displaying quirky personality traits and reflecting on their relationship statuses. Most of them are divorced while others are dissatisfied with their long-term marriages. 

The audience is introduced to the character of Felix, played by Todd McKenney, when he is over an hour late to the weekly poker game.

It’s a pivotal moment in the play showcasing Neil Simon’s dark sense of humour. Felix makes suicide attempts after divorce conversations with his wife, causing the group to frantically rush around the stage to intervene. 

When Felix ends up moving in with Oscar, there is a dynamic interplay between the two who are both accustomed to very different lifestyles. Oscar is a messy individual who lives on bland sandwiches and stale chips, while Felix is a clean freak who loves a good home-cooked meal. They couldn’t be more different.

This later leads to a crescendo when the two become sick of each other and Felix calls it quits.

PHOTO: Pia Johnson

The highlight of the show is in act two when the audience is introduced to the characters of Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon, played by Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee, the “giggly” sisters. 

The two originate from England and live upstairs from Oscar and Felix. When Oscar decides he wants to help Felix get over his wife, they invite them over for dinner. 

Although the sisters are seen as silly and quite daft, Felix helps the two become vulnerable as they open about their past relationships. When Oscar eventually kicks Felix out, Felix ends up moving in with the two sisters. 

The conclusion of Neil Simon’s play seems slightly brupt and could have been executed differently, but overall, the show delivers both light and shade.

At times you can hear a pin drop throughout the theatre, and just moments later a wave of laughter fills the auditorium.

The Odd Couple is a perfect night out at the theatre if you’re in need of a good belly laugh. But be quick, the production must close June 23. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketek.

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Eden Hayes
Eden Hayes
Eden Hayes is a Melbourne journalist with a passion for theatre, sports and popular culture. She loves a night out at the theatre!

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