Theatre

The Odd Couple by Neil Simon @ DBS Arts Centre, Singapore



cast list
Ramesh Panicker
Adrian Pang

directed by
Christian W Huber

In Neil Simon’s Tony-winning comedy, divorcee poker-player Oscar Madison invites his fastidious friend, Felix Ungar, to stay at his decidedly untidy New York apartment when Mrs Ungar kicks Felix out, presenting something of a new start for both men. What could be more fun than two newly emerged bachelors together in one flat? There’s only one hitch: Felix is a compulsively tidy hypochondriac, whose neurotic ways have found free rein.

Swiftly, slob-like Oscar and his poker playmates discover that Felix doesn’t take at all kindly to their slovenly ways. Indeed, he sets about reforming the flat in his own image, replete with spotless carpet and gourmet cuisine – to the irritation of the others. How can Oscar help his friend to recover from his marriage failure when his friend is so damnedly annoying? And will Oscar be able to keep his temper and the friendship alive?

The situation comedy that ensues is “one of the most heartwarming and funniest comedies ever written,” as the publicity material for this Singapore Repertory Theatre production assures us. Yet while the script certainly provides many classic moments based around the juxtaposition of the two lead characters – notably after Felix moves in – it’s not all down to the writing.

Faultless performances from Ramesh Panicker as Oscar in particular, and Adrian Pang as Felix, are coupled with a design with its own comedic turns from Sebastian Zeng, while the scene-stealing cameo roles of the Pigeon Sisters (Emma Yong and Beatrice Chia) are expertly handled by both actresses and director Christian W Huber. Only once, when a conga-like chase around the flat results in several actors emerging from the bathroom, is the direction found wanting. The multi-racial cast convince us that they’re all from New York really (save for the terribly, terribly English pigeon sisters).

At the end of the show, both characters in their way have reformed each other, however unwittingly. As well as some belly laughs, we are shown that less than desirable aspects of our friends’ natures can have reasonable causes and unexpected benefits, and that forgiveness is always the best course of action.



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