Raven Theatre presents
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
'We're out of cornflakes. FU': a loving note from a roommate? Raven Theatre presents
THE ODD COUPLE, a play by Neil Simon. The Tony Award winning stage play went on to become an Oscar winning film and Emmy winning TV show. The concept is familiarly nostalgic. Two best friends move in together. One is a slob. The other is tediously pristine. Comedic moments ensue. The plot is well-known. The roommate from hell experience is uncomfortably relatable. Just from the original set-up, THE ODD COUPLE comes with an amusement guarantee. Under the direction of Michael Menendian, Raven Theatre's production exaggerates the slapstick comedy to churn out an energetic roommate romp.
Bringing the dirt and vigor, Eric Roach (Oscar Madison) is the laidback jokester. Leaning more fun-loving Klugman (TV) then curmudgeon Matthau (movie), Roach is playfully animated. Whether it's chasing Felix or distorting his face, he goes physical to slap the punch line. Red-faced and perspiring, Jon Steinhagen (Felix Ungar) is the poster child for anxiety. Because he's more adorable hapless than neurotic (Lemon-movie & Randall-TV), it's easy to understand why the Pigeons would rescue him. Brigitte Ditmars (Cecily Pigeon) and Liz Fletcher (Gwendolyn Pigeon) are look-a-like, sound-a-like sister brits. Ditmars and Fletcher are bloody brilliant as flirty, frivolous swingers. The poker buddies add to the clowning element: Anthony Tournis (Speed), Greg Kolack (Vinnie), Larry Carani (Murray), and Greg Caldwell (Roy). Their marital banter shtick is stereotypically dated but the physical comedy moments, like responding to Felix's condition, feels organic and hilarious.
The set, props and costumes are 1960's vintage. Ray Toler (Scenic Designer) has designed the NYC apartment with an authentic feel. Doors open and close to give the audience a glimpse of the bathroom or kitchen in the set within the set. Toler joins forces with Mary O'Dowd(Properties Designer) to create the grimy bachelor pad in Act I. A plethora of pizza boxes, papers, and clothes seem to have been randomly discarded all over the set. The poker buddies add to the soiled mayhem by spilling chips and spitting pop. It's a hot mess! The wardrobe is a bona fide flashback that elicits a giggle fest from lights up. Joann Montemurro (Costume Designer) has clad the ensemble in shiny polyester goodness. The whole experience is a pleasant trip back to the sixties. Cigar smoking, poker playing, disengaged husbands banding together in sweet bromances for a few laughs. THE ODD COUPLE is filthy fun... the G-rated kind.
Fighting an impulse to clean-up the set in Act I, Shawn describes the experience with, "show is great!"
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Craving Thai food, I convince Shawn to hunt out an Andersonville resolution. We settle in on En Thai Ce, 5701 N. Clark. The storefront restaurant catches the setting sun. We abandon the hot seat in the window for a cooler refuge in the middle. We start with steamed potstickers. The tasty dumplings are accompanied by a rationing of soy sauce. I go with my old stand-by, pad thai with barbeque pork. En Thai Ce's version is a little spicy hot. The flavor is engaging and I indulge a little more than I should. For an early Sunday evening, the place is empty. Without the background buzz of conversations, we become all too aware of the ONE instrumental song that continues to play... over and over. Go for the food. If you hear the same song within a 7 minute time frame, get it to go! And here I was worried that I would get the "Odd Couple" theme song stuck in my head. I wish!