Printable CopyView ShowTHE ODD COUPLE
Matt Byrne Media
Holden Street Theatres
Until 28 Nov 2020

Review by Luke Wagner

In recent times, Neil Simon's 1960s comedy “The Odd Couple” has become a popular choice for production on amateur theatre stages in South Australia. Matt Byrne is the latest to produce the script, with his take on the show far more traditional than other recent productions.

Oscar Madison is messy and carefree, so when his good friend Felix Unger moves in, his fastidious nature very quickly rubs him the wrong way. Add to this Felix’s constant emotional breakdowns from his divorce, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Recent productions of this show have opted for a more modern or diverse interpretation of the show. Byrne’s production is set in the 60s and has a decidedly more mature age range for its cast. This is not necessary a bad thing, but unfortunately some pacing issues and a lack of energy made this production feel a little more dated than it is. Some of the dialogue from the original script hits a flat note to a more enlightened 2020 audience and could have done with a bit of a going over. Who needs a maid when you have a wife?

The cast were all capable in their roles. Byrne cast himself as one half of the titular Odd Couple in the role of Oscar Madison. His performance at times comes across as a little more cantankerous than laidback and carefree – but entertaining nonetheless. David Grybowski as Felix did well in his role. He was appropriately wooden at times but added ham where needed to good comic effect. The remaining male ensemble held their own with Gavin Cianci as Speed worth a mention.

Bec Mason and Lauren Weber as the two British girls from upstairs – Cecily and Gwendolyn – added some much-needed energy and brightness to the show’s second act.

The set, whilst appropriate in colour scheme, felt far too well-styled and maintained for the notoriously messy Oscar, which meant that once Felix ‘tidied up’ the impact wasn’t as noticeable. The immediate visual gag felt a little lacking following the lengthy set change time.

Overall this production doesn’t do anything revolutionary with the source material that is being presented, but delivers a live sitcom experience to an audience that enjoyed the big punchline moments.