ROOMIE MISS MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Some directors are simply gluttons for punishment. If you dare to tackle a staging that reigns as one of most popular American comedies in the past half century and you can be sure your work will be placed firmly under the microscope for the slightest of flaws.
That’s a lot of pressure for Stuart Hughes who has to up the ante from the original 1965 Broadway comedy starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney, the 1968 cinematic offering featuring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon, and give it equal or greater importance than that achieved by Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in the 1970s television sitcom.
You can breathe a sigh of relief because stylin’ Stuart finds a way to strike all the right snickers alongside Neil Simon’s superlatively concordant comical clockwork.
On one level The Odd Couple celebrates an unsuspecting man marriage accented by a once messy dwelling space and Friday night poker games. But loser to the core, the play timelessly hits home about the beauty of imperfection, the radiance of friendship, and the importance of moving on. They just don’t write them like this anymore!
Oscar (Albert Schultz) and Felix (Diego Matamoros) are by no means poster boys for successful marriages but their insolent card game circle of Vinnie (Derek Boyes), Roy (Kevin Bundy), Murray (Oliver Dennis) and Speed (John Jarvis) make their shortcomings seem blissfully immaterial.
With Felix picking up the pieces of his life and occupying a bedroom of Oscar’s eight room New York City apartment, the less-than-dynamic duo learn to cope with all things idiosyncratic. It’s a funny, it’s peculiar, it’s a mismatch made in heaven.
Forget about anything and everything you’ve seen acting aces Albert Schultz and Diego Matamoros personify on stage. Their latest incarnations are unlike anything you’ve seen them in before and long overdue in terms of displaying range for theatregoers.
Separation and divorce are rarely laughing matters in most story offerings for the stage or screen. Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple reminds us that life can only get better.
Review by Steven Berketo
THE ODD COUPLE by Neil Simon May 5 – June 11, 2016 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $35.00 – $89.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Albert Schultz, Diego Matamoros, Raquel Duffy, Sarah Wilson, John Jarvis, Oliver Dennis, Kevin Bundy, and Derek Boyes DIRECTOR Stuart Hughes SET Lorenzo Savoini COSTUMES Erika Connor LIGHTING Steven Hawkins SOUND DESIGNJohn Lott STAGE MANAGER Robert Harding