ANDERSON – It’s more than the neat freak versus the slob. It’s friendship and curve balls and life, with laughs. Anderson University’s Theatre Department presents “The Odd Couple,” Neil Simon’s female version, opening tomorrow at Boze Lyric Theatre in Byrum Hall. Ronn Johnstone directs.
“The Odd Couple” was originally the now-familiar story of Felix and Oscar, written by Neil Simon, and first performed on Broadway in 1965. The comedy explored the clash of the wound-up neat freak with the easygoing slob. Simon later wrote the female version of the story in 1985.
The story tells of two friends, both reeling from the break-ups of their marriages. The neurotic hypochondriac Florence compulsively cleans and cooks to the nth degree. Meanwhile, Olive is the easygoing, unkempt sports writer. She’s got a big heart and invites the despondent Florence to share her apartment, but Florence ultimately drives her right up the wall. Into this mix, add four female friends who like to get together for Trivial Pursuit. Finally, there’s the Costazuela brothers, a pair with date potential in Olive’s eyes.
AU’s cast fills the bill. Savannah Trevelen is the somewhat slovenly but warm-hearted Olive. She arrives on stage looking like she just played softball.
Anne Stichter as Florence plays a convincing neurotic hypochondriac who is at the same time crassly funny, burping to beat the band after downing a soda, and emitting dissonate loud gronks to correct the effects of her theoretical sinus condition. Of course, all the while, her hair is in place and she’s wearing pearls with her apron.
The pair’s friends, Renee (Cassi Russel), Vera (Aijamal Abdrahmanova), Sylvie (Emily Farris) and Mickey (Grace Long), generate exactly the sort of camaderie we expect, while conveying truly individual characters. The timing works well amongst all the banter, eliciting laughs along the way. Vera’s vacuity was perhaps written a little over the top by the playwright, but Abdrahmanova does a great job with it.