BWW Reviews: Pioneer Theatre's THE ODD COUPLE is a Sensational Piece of Theatre
Pioneer Theatre Company's production of the perennial classic The Odd Couple is a sensational piece of theatre. Well directed, produced, designed, and performed, it hits the ball out of the park all around.
The Odd Couple, by Neil Simon, shows what happens when the lives of a sloppy, relaxed man and his uptight, neurotic friend intersect. Recently divorced Oscar Madison is concerned when he learns that the long marriage of his friend, Felix Ungar, is also ending. He offers the use of his eight-bedroom apartment, and the two become roommates as Felix attempts to pick up the pieces of his life and put them back together. But they soon learn that Felix's obsession with cleanliness and order is more than Oscar can take.
Director Karen Azenberg, who is the PTC Artistic Director, has expertly staged the scenes and molded the performances in a way that reflects a profound understanding of the language of Neil Simon. It's somehow simultaneously over-the-top and true-to-life, and it works. The sheer amount of audience laughter certifies that much.
Broadway talents Mark La Mura as Oscar and Jeff Talbott as Felix head up a strong cast of character actors. La Mura plays Oscar with an exasperation that's palpable but a desire to do good that's laudable. Talbott's Felix is as lovable as he is obsessive.
Paul Kiernan, Kent Hadfield, Joe DeBevc, and Nathan Sears are spot on as Oscar and Felix's poker buddies. As the Pigeon sisters who live upstairs, Amy Bodnar and Helen Anker are an amusing second-act addition.
Oscar's apartment, in which the show is set, is a wonderland of 1960s nostalgia. The scenic design by Michael Schweikardt, along with the props, provide an exciting retro arena in which the friends' arguments can play out. The apartment itself is almost as much a character as anyone who walks in the door.
All these elements have combined to create a Broadway-caliber night out right here in Salt Lake City, which is rare for a straight play. Don't miss it!
The Odd Couple plays through April 6, 2013. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit www.pioneertheatre.org.
Photo Credit: L-R Mark La Mura (Oscar Madison) and Jeff Talbott (Felix Ungar). Photo by Alexander Weisman.