Woy Woy Little Theatre is having a sell out success with its final offering of the season: Neil Simon’s much loved, Tony Award winning comedy, The Odd Couple. Simon is a prolific American playwright and screenwriter, recipient of numerous Tony awards and Oscars, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. He is famous for such plays as Barefoot in the Park and Last of the Red Hot Lovers, movies like Murder by Death, California Suite and Biloxi Blues, and television series such as The Phil Silvers Show. The Odd Couple achieved success in all three mediums: after a hit two year run on Broadway it was made famous on the big screen in 1968 by its stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau then, in the seventies, it reached a new audience through the popular TV show starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.* The play focuses on the friendship between two divorced men, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, and the friction that arises between them when they decide to share an apartment. The play exploits the comedic potential of their opposed personalities (Oscar is a poker playing, womanising slob; Felix, a neurotic hypochondriac and neat-freak) while gently exploring the pathos of a genuine human situation. The dialogue is witty and quick-fire, but much of the humour derives from the sharp observation of identifiable characters reacting under the stress of recognisable social dilemmas.
Award winning director, Shea Wicks, has assembled a top notch cast for Woy Woy’s production. The leads are played by two very experienced actors: David Wicks, a seasoned theatrical who was tempted out of retirement to play Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace when he joined the Woy Woy family two years ago; and Stephen Cummings who is very familiar to Central Coast audiences, having played more than 30 roles around the Coast over the past 20 years. Steve’s portrayal of Felix manages to embrace aspects of both Jack Lemmon and Tony Randall’s performances in the role, while still making the character very much his own, and David’s energetic yet sensitive rendering of Oscar makes the character likeable and sympathetic even when he is at his most irascible. Together they revive the chemistry that has made the friends’ antagonistic relationship so perrenially popular. Very able support is provided by Keith Conway, Aidan Cuddington, Chris Ashcroft and Douglas Kent (who play Oscar’s poker buddies), Tiffany Tuffin and Rebecca McRae (who play his upstairs neighbours). Several of these are newcomers to the Peninsula Theatre but none are strangers to the stage, and it shows. They all make the most of their roles, ensuring that each character is distinct and memorable. Shea’s direction is meticulous, showing a fine eye for detail in the use of set and props, and in the subtle but continuous activity of the actors that creates texture and a strong sense of realism throughout the piece. Clever mirroring of action sequences in the early and later scenes is used to great comic effect, and the pace and energy was excellent from start to finish.
Everyone involved is to be congratulated for a successful and entertaining production of this beloved play. Performances for this weekend and the final matinee are already sold out, but there are still a few seats left for next weekend if you hurry. Book online at http://www.woywoylt.com.au or call the box office on 4344 4737
* Biographical info courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Simon
Images courtesy of WWLT publicity.