Lakewood Theatre Company‘s production of The Odd Couple makes one thing perfectly clear. Neil Simon‘s Tony-winning domestic comedy is still hilarious after all these years! It premiered on Broadway in 1965.
The story revolves around a Friday night poker group at sports writer Oscar Madison’s (Don Alder) spacious New York apartment. Recently divorced, Oscar is an unapologetic slob. He loves his guy messes, and his buddies Speed (Danny Bruno), Murray (Todd Hermanson), Vinnie (Mark Schwan), and Roy (Gary Powell) don’t mind a bit.
Felix Unger (Grant Byington) is another story entirely. He arrives at poker night late and in a dither. His wife has kicked him out, and he has no place to stay. In a moment of pure madness–maybe it’s the scotch–Oscar invites him to move in. It’s a huge apartment, after all. And thus, the two men enter a new circle of Hell.
Felix is a neatnik. No. Felix is OCD. His needs for cleanliness and order are pathological. But as Neil Simon once observed, often humor comes at the discomfort of others. While Felix gets the apartment ship-shape, Oscar seethes.
As matters spiral from bad to murderous, Oscar decides he and Felix should go on a double date with Gwen (Melissa Whitney) and Cecily (Christy Bigelow) Pigeon, the English sisters who live upstairs. No spoilers here!
Pat Patton, who spent 32 years at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directs this excellent cast. With a nod to Simon’s more than 50-year career, Patton notes that while The Odd Couple is one of Simon’s earliest plays, it is also among his best known. “As is typical in Simon’s work, [this is] a story of very human, real, and recognizable characters, who struggle to find connection and a sense of belonging,” says Patton
The creative team includes John Gerth, scenic design; Juniper and Nate Zwainlesk, lighting design; Steve Knox, producer; Marcus Storey, sound design; Jessica Carr Miller, costume design; Jim Crino, properties; and Michah Steury, stage manager.
Lakewood is a small theatre, with fewer than 250 seats. As of this writing, the production continues through April 12 on the Headlee Mainstage at Lakewood Center.