The Odd Couple for Thurles Drama Group on Valentine’s Day
Opening February 14 – Valentine’s Day, Thurles Drama Group will perform Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple at the Source Arts Center for 6 consecutive nights ending Saturday February 19.
Many readers will remember this very funny and popular television sit-com from the 1970s and early 80s. Based on the original play, the plot revolves around two men separated from their wives who end up sharing an apartment in New York.
Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar are unlikely bedfellows, to say the least, as one (Oscar) is a complete slob and the other (Felix) is an obsessive tidying up freak. The two men drive each other crazy, and the comedy and hilarity of the play emerges from this extreme personality clash.
Neil Simon is no stranger to this type of claustrophobic intensity in his plays, many of which have become hit films such as Barefoot in the Park, The Goodbye Girl and The Prisoner of Second Avenue. The Odd Couple is squarely built on the collision of opposites. Oscar Madison is a divorced sportscaster living alone who hosts five friends for a weekly poker game, including his good friend Felix Ungar.
In the first scene, Felix, usually quite punctual, arrives hours late in emotional distress with the terrible news that his wife has kicked him out. Oscar invites Félix to become his roommate, and the “strange couple” is formed. Their relationship is implicitly a sendoff of marriage at a time of rising divorce rates and precarious gender roles. The single life is clearly threatened by Félix’s TOC behavior. To break the tension, Oscar proposes a double date with their upstairs neighbors, the Pigeon sisters. Felix reluctantly agrees.
However, Oscar’s plans for an intimate evening go awry as the Pigeons both take pity on a heartbroken Felix. The missed date leads to a major argument between the two men and the only solution seems to be separation. In the end, Oscar and Felix come to a truce and some normalcy is restored. It all happens in a storyline full of comics, moments, great one-line jokes, and a cast of very memorable characters.
Simon’s plays tend to be domestic comedies focusing on family life and relationships. Almost all of them are set in New York City and, explicitly or not, depict the concerns and values of middle-class Jewish family life, writers, and show business people.
Dealing with themes such as marriage, divorce, sexual liberation and intergenerational conflict, Simon’s work effectively explores late 20th century American lifestyles and values. As a former television writer and stand-up comedian, Simon uses wit and great one-liners to lighten the room and make us laugh hilariously in situations that in real life often aren’t. funny at all.
A great challenge then for the cast of Thurles Drama Group brilliantly directed by Pat Loughnane as director. Matt Treacy and Donal Ryan lead the cast as Oscar and Felix respectively. The remaining cast members are; Speed – Johnny Fogarty, Murray _ Martin Fitzgerald, Roy – Liam Ryan, Vinnie – Patrick Nolan and the Pigeon Sisters, Gwendolyn – Margaret McCormack and Cecily – Liz Kirwan. More on the play, cast, and show details next week.