Review: THE ODD COUPLE at The Comedy Theatre

The Odd Couple is well worth seeing – 4.5 STARS.

By: May. 28, 2024
Review: THE ODD COUPLE at The Comedy Theatre
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Another iconic play has opened on Melbourne’s East End Theatre District - Neil’s Simon The Odd Couple. Starring screen and stage icons Shane Jacobson (Kenny, The Bourne Legacy and Oddball) and Todd McKenney (Dancing with the Stars and The Boy from Oz), The Odd Couple is a fantastic 60’s situational comedy that features outstanding writing. This production also has a superb supporting cast, that includes Lucy Durack (Wicked, Shrek and Legally Blonde), Penny McNamee (Home and Away and Wicked) and John Batchelor (Sea Patrol and Red Dog). The Odd Couple is well worth seeing – 4.5 STARS.

Review: THE ODD COUPLE at The Comedy Theatre
Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson
Photo by Pia Johnson

Neil Simon’s comedy The Odd Couple, first premiered on Broadway in 1965. The story is centred around two divorced bachelors, one who is sloppy and overly relaxed (Oscar), and the other who is a neat freak and neurotic (Felix). When Felix ends up becoming Oscar’s roommate, these two friends’ differences create the perfect situational comedy set-up, something that Neil Simon’s writing ‘milks’ to perfection. The sheer brilliance and craftsmanship of Neil Simon’s writing is clear through his 17 Tony nominations, which included three wins, one of which was for The Odd Couple. Neil Simon also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Lost in Yonkers, has a theatre named after him on Broadway, and is the only playwright to have four different productions running simultaneously on Broadway at one time. Such is the contribution of Neil Simon’s stage and screen work on American culture, that it would likely be hard to find an American born in the mid to late 20th Century who has not heard of or seen his work. Apart from The Odd Couple, some other well-known Neil Simon works include the musical Sweet Charity and the plays Barefoot in the Park, Plaza Suite, and California Suite. All of which have been made into films, with The Odd Couple also being made into a popular television show between 1970 – 1975.

Review: THE ODD COUPLE at The Comedy Theatre
Shane Jacobson, Todd McKenney,  Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee
Photo by Pia Johnson

The current production of The Odd Couple, has strong direction by Mark Kilmurry and a well-designed set by Justin Nardella. Oscar and Felix were played ably by Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney, both of whom had strong onstage presence and on point comic timing. While their American dialect work could have perhaps been better polished, Jacobson and McKenney’s wonderful onstage comradery made up for any weakness in accent execution. Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee as the Pigeon sisters were a highlight of The Odd Couple and their performances increased the audience’s need to laugh out loud throughout the second act. The rest of the supporting cast, John Batchelor as Roy, Laurence Coy as Speed, Jamie Oxenbould as Vinnie and Anthony Taufa as Murray, were all impressive as Oscar and Felix’s poker buddies.

The Odd Couple is playing at The Comedy Theatre for a strictly limited season, through to June 23rd.

Review: THE ODD COUPLE at The Comedy Theatre
Jamie Oxenbould, John Batchelor, Laurence Coy, Todd McKenney, Shane Jacobson and Anthony Taufa 
Photo by Pia Johnson



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