BWW Review: THE ODD COUPLE at MET At The Warwick
The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, directed by Bob Paisley now playing at the Warwick Theatre, home of the Metropolitan Theatre Ensemble.
Neil Simon's 1965 play about two polar opposite men who end up living in the same apartment together finds a masterful home at the MET, in Kansas City. While many adaptations to this original may have muddied the waters, the MET's production takes it back to the original fountainhead and the spring doth bring forth an elixir of magical fun. The show is non-stop fun, from the first line to the last, with performances that, while true to the original, are imaginative and fresh.
Tony Beasley (as Felix Ungar) and Scott Cordes (as Oscar Madison) are the completely mismatched "odd couple". Beasley's frenetically paced Felix is deliciously exciting to watch. His take on the fastidious and hypochondriacal news writer is so bounding with energy that it propels the show to a new level. Cordes is a sufficiently slovenly Oscar, but gives the character broader depth of emotion that completes the perfect pairing. It is easy to appreciate the inventiveness of these two leading men as they navigate both a trash strewn apartment and Simon's demanding script.
Curtis Smith, Andy Penn, Bill Pelletier and Larry Goodman are the poker buddies who bear witness to the ensuing calamity with some great performances, too. Smith (as Murray) has some particularly fine moments as he brings the NYPD character heart, while remaining ground in reality. Andy Penn (as Speed) is the pecking rooster who always seems on the verge of a fight. Bill Pelletier (as Roy) while a practical minded accountant shows a desert dry sense of wit. Larry Goodman (as Vinnie) is the mild-mannered target of many of Speed's well targeted barbs, yet leaving the audience wondering if it's a bit of covert manipulation on his part.
Rebecca Ralstin (as Gwendolyn Pigeon) and Nicole Hall (as Cecily Pigeon) are comically coiffed British sisters who live in the same building. The two are a comedy within a comedy as they bring a feminine element to the mix with effervescent excitement. They so completely draw the audience in that they practically beg for a spin-off show (which I'm totally up for!)
Bob Paisley has pulled together an ensemble that helps us understand why Neil Simon won a Tony Award for his writing of this show. This group is imaginatively playful, dissonant, irreverent, at times irresponsible, and eternally...well, odd. But, oh so much fun to watch.
There are three good reasons to see this show: two sublime sisters, a powerful pack of paradigmatic poker pals, and two obsessive and obtusely odd men.
The Odd Couple is showing September 13-23, 2018 at the MET's recently acquired venue. The Warwick is at 3927 Main St, KCMO 64111 and there's plenty of parking behind the building. Tickets can be ordered online at metkc.org or over the phone by calling the box office at 816-569-3226
Photos courtesy of the MET