2013 - The Odd Couple

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The Odd Couple – Female Version by Neil Simon - 20th, 21st & 22nd June 2013

The Russell Players evoked the mood and spirit of the 1980’s with their very enjoyable and amusing production of the female version of this great play, extensively re written by Neil Simon specifically for a mainly female cast. The scenario of a prissy perfectionist moving in with a laid a back couch potato,  being played out by female rather than male protagonists  worked really well, in this splendid  production by Chris Partridge (who also designed and built the excellent set).

Oscar Madison, the slobby sports writer of the original, morphs effectively into the laid back divorcee Olive, and  the macho all night poker sessions are transformed into the more sedate - but very funny-  Friday night Trivial Pursuit team  challenge!

This production moved ahead at a fast pace and was blessed with a very strong cast of “character” women each with their own very individual personalities. Deni Smale in the role of Olive and Jessica Gardener  as the neurotic, hypochondria perfectionist  Florence Ungar were the mainstays of a very slick production where the laughs came in rapid succession.   The facial expressions of Vera (Tricia Harris) as she ate a “delicious” crab meat and curry sauce sandwich - on Rye, were a delight, and Sheila Partington (Renee) and Juliet Devon (Sylvie) gave great support .  Louise Walder delivered a strong , well observed and consistent performance as the “never off duty” tough NYPD cop Mickey.

The two amorous Spanish brothers from Barcelona who live upstairs (Mitch Mitchell and Nigel Adams) - unashamedly inspired by Benny Hill and Manuel - had great fun mangling the Spanish and English languages, using the clever plays on words and double entendres to great effect.

Special mention must be made of the 80’s incidental music which lent real 80’s ambiance, and also the retro costumes ( assembled by  Hazel Gillingwater) which really brought back
memories of all those things we used to wear and the music we danced to when we were younger!

The whole cast brought out every piece of Simon’s trademark humour, much to the delight and enjoyment of the very large audience.

Duncan Hamilton