Older readers, like me, will no doubt remember the golden years of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.  So it was with great trepidation that I attended QTC’s The Odd Couple; and to be honest, I was ready to channel my grumpy old woman if the two protagonists were too young, too perky or too unfunny.  Luckily they were none of these.

Before the curtain rose, I was comforted with a music sampling from the television series. I relaxed somewhat. Then I was a little deflated when the curtain did rise– was I watching The Block?  The uber modern set – complete with subway tiles, coloured splash back and contemporary sofa – suggested Neil Simon’s script had been updated. Okay, I prepared for a 21st century refashioning.  But nope, the script was original with its quintessentially fifties jokes about nagging wives, men’s poker nights and quips about the erotic potential of dates.  Simon’s script is a little quaint but it still has humorous moments – moments that much of the audience really enjoyed.  The mid-century modern design (Christina Smith) was a visual trope for the play’s universality.  To my mind however, the set and script jarred.

The performances were strong – standout was Jason Klarwein as Oscar which is, of course, the best role.  Though he looked too young, Tama Matheson was good as Felix but it’s difficult to compete with Oscar – Felix is a pain and Oscar is loveable. Question – when did bowties become shorthand for neat freak? I was surprised to see NY cop (Murray) sporting a beard –yeah, I got the contemporary grooming reference; and Vinnie’s pork pie hat is equally referential.  Personally, I preferred the styling (and acting) of the Pigeon sisters Lauren Jackson (Gwendolyn) and Amy Ingram (Cecily).

In all, The Odd Couple is a crowd-pleaser.  It’s amusing, well acted and directed.  Perhaps though for the older set.  At the end of play, looking at the lineup—I think Bryan Probets (Vinnie) would have been a more successful Felix.  But then I’m a grumpy old woman.

 

The Odd Couple

Until 8th November

Playhouse, QPAC

 

Words by Toni Johnson-Woods