Entertainment » Reviews

The Odd Couple

by Richard Rosario
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday May 11, 2017
The Odd Couple

My first response to the all-female version of "The Odd Couple" was a solid 'pass.' I am glad I didn't. The sold-out Sunday matinee had the audience rolling in the aisles.

The play itself is not one of Neil Simon's better works. It has been criticized as a gender-bending, one-note comedy. In fact, one review reported that the audience did not crack so much as a grin during the two-hour performance.

However, Simon's work is replete with his usual, quick-witted divorce humor and allusions to feminist themes. If properly coaxed, it can be hilarious. Director Lysander Abadia and a talented, veteran Las Vegas Little Theatre cast achieved that result with unanimous audience approval.

Florence "Flo" Unger (April Sauline) is devastated her 10-year marriage has ended. Flo wanders the city, as her friends worry about her. She ends up at Olive Madison's (Gillen Brey) apartment. Flo intrudes on Olive's weekly Trivial Pursuit (poker game) where the gang, Sylvie (Jennifer McClain), Mickey (Rebecca Karnes), and Vera (Kate Labahn) meet to unwind and get away from their spouses and boyfriends. Olive takes Florence in. It is not long before the two get on each other's nerves.

Sauline enters looking like a rich, spoiled diva. However, she soon devolves into the familiar depressive, obsessive-compulsive, neat freak everyone acquaints with Felix, of the original, "Odd Couple." The audience loved every minute of Sauline's delivery and physical humor. The audience even responded with peals of laughter at such time-worn gags as the feigned fall out the window, and cleaning of an overhead light fixture, mistaken for suicide attempts by the others.

Brey plays well with Sauline. The "Oscar" character is a little more sympathetic in this rendition. When Flo arrives at Olive's apartment, Olive is more compassionate and concerned than her counterpart, Oscar, in the original play. She is also a pushover for her ex-husband. Olive confesses she is lonely and 'proposes' to Flo to get her to move in with her.

In the second act, the pace quickens, and hilarity ensues. In an attempt to cheer Flo up and satisfy her lusts, Olive makes a double date with two Spanish brothers (the Pigeon sisters in the original) Manolo (Casper Collins) and Jesus (Drew Yonemori) Constasuela. Language and culture differences are the fodder for Simon's humor.

Flo finds every reason to bail on the date, leaving Olive to entertain the two men. However, in the second scene, it is Flo who has garnered the men's attentions. As usual, she derails Olive's plans for a carnal evening and instead has the brothers' lamenting with her. By the second scene of the act, Flo has gotten on everyone's nerves with her hypochondria, compulsively cleaning, and unsolicited advice.

Collins and Yonemori steal the show from the moment they appear on stage. Their physical humor, facial expressions, and timing had the audience laughing continuously. However, a quick succession of three gay jokes fell flat on a heavily senior audience. Manolo suggests everyone thinks Flo may be gay because all they ever see is women coming to visit her.

He also affirms the brothers are the opposite of gay. The audience responded with silence. It was difficult to distinguish whether they found the jokes were not funny or they were made uncomfortable by them. However, the audience delighted in every other punchline, misdirection, and misunderstanding created by the language barrier between the brothers and Olive and Flo.

In between scenes, the cast asked the audience Trivial Pursuit questions as the next scene was being set. The audience participated readily and responded with quick answers to every question.

The set was relatively unchanged in both acts as all the action takes place in Olive's apartment. The set design (Ron Lindblom) is very detailed with six doors that are used in the production. The apartment is tastefully decorated with an abundance of pictures and wall hangings including New York Mets pennants and pictures of Mets players. It is one of the few references to Olive's career as a sportswriter.

McClain, Karnes, and Labahn give solid supporting performances as Olive's friends and support group. Their banter about sex, relationships and Olive's attempts at serving food elicited plenty of laughter. Karnes' character mirrors that of Murray, the cop, in the original play. The other roles are not as easily identifiable from the original. Although the play may not stand strong on its own accord, this fine cast made it stand strong based upon the audience's response.

"The Odd Couple" runs through May 21 on the Mainstage at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89103. For information or tickets, call 702-362-7996 or visit www.LVLT.org

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