Beef & Boards brings new laughter to Neil Simon’s still very relevant, 50-year-old The Odd Couple. Though set in an apartment on Riverside Drive in New York City in the 1960s, the story and humor are transferable to any place and any time.
There’s always going to be a clutch of male friends who bond despite their distinctly varied characteristics. And there’s always going to be one who is kind-hearted to a fault and another who is going to create “a situation.” And therein lies the comedy these fine actors mine and deliver to our delight.
Beef & Boards favorites, and one debut, fill out the bill of eight, who cavort through the inevitable outcome, with the turn-around at the end still gaining the biggest laugh no matter how many times you’ve seen the play.
Huge disclaimer—this production features the original script that opened on March 10, 1965 on Broadway and earned four Tony Awards. Do not come expecting the 1968 film or the 1970s ABC sitcom or the 1975 film or the 1985 adaptation for a female mis-match or the 2002 revision newly titled Oscar & Felix: A New Look at The Odd Couple.
What you can expect is Jeff Stockberger with an over-the-top Oscar the slovenly, Eddie Curry delivering an ingratiating neatnick Felix, and four poker night buddies who reveal their own quirk. Michael Davis as caustic Speed, Darrin Murrell as mild-mannered Vinnie, Dave Ruark as practical Roy, Craig Underwood as the cop who can’t stop, and the British-born empathetic Pigeon sisters; Erin Cohenour as the widow Gwendolyn and Carries Fedor as the divorcee Cecily.
These eight represent a slice-of-life in rapid hilarity that’s a salve for how much we might be like they are, which explains why The Odd Couple is an even bet after a half century of non-stop productions somewhere.
Douglas E. Stark’s direction along with a fine production team starts Beef & Boards’ 42nd year with a huge dose of wit and a nice balance of wisdom.