Opposites do extract big laughs from ‘The Odd Couple’ at North Coast Rep
If you go
■ What: ‘The Odd Couple’
■ When: Matinees, evenings through May 4
■ Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
■ Tickets: $37-$54
■ Contact: (858) 481-1055
■ Website: northcoastrep.org
By Diana Saenger
It seems that no matter how many years keep passing since the 1965 opening of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” the script never fails to entertain. With a great cast perfectly firing off Simon’s brilliant dialogue like slivers off a ban saw, the production at the North Coast Repertory Theatre is certainly worthy entertainment.
Louis Lotorto (Felix) and Matt Thompson (Oscar) play the leads with ease and much hilarity. When neat- nick Felix is thrown out of his house, he pours out his dilemma to his thoroughly untidy friend, Oscar. One look around Oscar’s room at the dirty dishes, scattered garments and other debris all over the place, and you know these two old friends are not made to live together. But Oscar insists he has eight rooms and Felix is welcome to move in.
For a brief second, this is a great solution. Felix will even be right there when the guys welcome their Friday night poker group. However, the more Felix starts to clean and cook wonderful dishes, the more Oscar’s world begins to shrink.
The first night of poker begins to prove this fact. As Murray (Bernard X. Kopsho) the cop; Speed (John Nutten) a player who doesn’t like interruptions; Vinnie (Chris O’Bryon) an easy target to his friends’ jibes; and Roy (Albert Park) a dry-witted accountant, begin to play, it’s a side-splitting carousel of one-liners and haphazard actions from one character or another. Timing is everything. The actors have to be quick with their responses; if one misses his line, the story would deflate like a balloon.
Thankfully, Lotorto never misses a beat as the always anxiety-ridden Felix. He talks faster than an auctioneer and rarely even hears Oscar’s responses. Thompson is equally efficient as Oscar. But he can only take so much — the clean house, the terrific meals Felix wants to shove down his throat and the constant intrusions Felix has made on his life. When Oscar finally explodes, Thompson is in unrestrained command of his character.
Things get especially funny when Oscar actually demands Felix move out immediately and the upstairs neighbors — the Pigeon sisters (Callie Prendiville and Amanda Schaar) agree to take him in.
The set by Marty Burnet is terrific. Director Andrew Barnicle had his hands full making sure the lines came fast and funny, and that each actor followed through with his character’s mannerisms and attitudes. Of course, just watching Felix and Oscar go at each other like a cat and a possum is fun enough, but with this terrific entire cast on board, “The Odd Couple” is a show not to miss.
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