Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

A new stage production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple is in good hands thanks to a couple of ‘old hands’.

The cast of The Odd Couple, currently playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.*

Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson comically light up the stage at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre, bringing to life Simon’s two very distinct characters.

At the same time both are nearly upstaged by the work of Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee.

From left, Shane Jacobson, Todd McKenney, Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee.*

First performed on Broadway in the 1960s and subsequently adapted for the cinema and television, The Odd Couple tells of two friends  – the very messy, slovenly, cigar smoking sportswriter Oscar Madison (Shane Jacobsen) and the fastidiously clean, house proud and hypochondriac news writer Felix Ungar (Todd McKenney) –  who end up sharing an apartment in New York in the 1960s.

Although his marriage is far from perfect, Felix is heartbroken when his wife tells him she wants a divorce.  Homeless, his arrival at Oscar’s place for their weekly poker game with mutual friends ends up with Felix moving in with Oscar who is struggling financially thanks to his divorce and laissez faire attitude to money.

Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney.*

So, what could go wrong when a neurotic neat freak who counts every cent he and those around him spend moves in with someone lacking any discipline?

Well, of course, plenty as both slip into the actions and faults which drove their wives mad.  Those actions result in almost continual laughs thanks to both the script and the physical actions of McKenney and Jacobson. Having worked together on a number of productions the two have a great on-stage rapport.

From left: Jamie Oxenbould, John Batchelor, Laurence Coy, Shane Jacobson, Anthony Taufa and Todd McKenney.*

Further adding to the humour is the interaction between Felix and Oscar and the other Friday night poker players – Speed (Laurence Coy), Murray (Anthony Taufa), Roy (John Batchelor) and Vinnie (Jamie Oxenbould).

And then there’s the work of Durack and McNamee as the giggly English sisters, Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon, who live upstairs.

Oscar is certain they will help him relieve certain frustrations he is experiencing given the lack of women in his life! For his plan to succeed he needs Felix on board. Needless to say things don’t go to plan. Durack’s and McNamee’s comic delivery of some very funny lines and their actions – especially with a cigarette – are priceless.

Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee.*

Given the number of times The Odd Couple has been performed ensuring a fresh look can be challenging. But thanks to the work of Jacobson, McKenney, Durack and McNamee this new production is extremely funny, entertaining and offers the chance to see some `real pros’ strut their stuff.

The Odd Couple is currently playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre until June 23  before opening at Sydney’s Theatre Royal from June 27. Visit The Odd Couple website for more information and tickets.

*Photo credit: Pia Johnson.

Jenny Burns attended the opening night of The Odd Couple as a guest of the production company.

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