Neil Simon's The Odd Couple

Adelaide University Fringe Club

Butterfly House – 262 South Terrace. 17 Mar 2012

The Odd Couple is an ideal choice for this mob of university students and recent graduates.  They are all about the same age and most are involved in theatre, film, other media, script/screen writing or teaching.  Neil Simon was one of the most famous American playwrights of the second half of the last century.  He had four Broadway shows running simultaneously in 1966, including this one.  The Odd Couple epitomises the type – a comedy set in a situation involving young urban professionals, witty dialogue and one-liners, plenty of anxiety, life’s lessons learned or at least recognised, and a wholesome niceness about it.  In this particular situation, the self-absorbed Felix Unger has been thrown out of his marriage and moves in with his friend and divorcee Oscar Madison.  They are nothing alike and we see that their inability to get along was a factor in their broken marriages, although they don’t really get it.

This annual production by the Fringe Club does not quite pull into the station.  First-time director Elizabeth Graham and her cast too often fall off the perch of fulsome characterisations into over-performance.  Energy is misplaced as rushed or mangled dialogue with poor enunciation or over-reaching hysterics.  Graham hasn’t shaped what the actors bring to the text to the service of the narrative.  Ben Crisp as the highly strung Felix has the most scope for comic business and he certainly shows what comedic physicality he is capable of – his sinus-clearing routine was a real hoot.  Justine Gaudreau-Fewster and Taylee Jones as the Pigeon sisters – the English birds in a lower floor apartment - hit the suitably sweet, vacuous and flirtatious notes. 

While The Odd Couple might be a bulletproof script, the Fringe Club took some of the paint off of it.  Like Felix’s cooking, this was a soufflé that failed to rise to its full potential. 

David Grybowski

When: Closed
Where: The Butterfly House
Bookings: Closed