Charles Leggett as Oscar Madison (left) and Chris Ensweiler as Felix Ungar are stars of the Village Theatre's production of "The Odd Couple," running through March 25. Photo by Jay Koh.
Arguably the best-known and most-produced play in the U.S., Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" is currently being staged by Village Theatre at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave. While it's not a groundbreaking interpretation of the solid chestnut, the show's laugh-out-loud script certainly doesn't disappoint.
For those few who are unfamiliar with the premise, it goes something like this. Frumpy, grumpy Oscar Madison is an unkempt divorcee who is perfectly happy to live in an eight-room Manhattan apartment that looks like the aftermath of a tornado. His friend Felix Ungar is an uptight, fastidious neatnik who is suddenly separated from his wife of 12 years and seems suicidal. Oscar generously invites Felix to move in with him, and the expected mayhem ensues.
The story is set in the 1960s and Village Theatre's set is authentically post-modern chic underneath the grime. The characters, too, resonate perfectly with the time period and Simon's witty dialogue somehow manages not to seem dated.
The poker player buddies are well-cast, although Matt Wolfe's Speed comes off just a tad more agitated (and loud) than necessary. Betsy Schwartz and Caitlin Frances are delightful as the loony Pigeon sisters, adding energy and color to every scene they're in.
Chris Ensweiler plays Felix Ungar with a smart mix of nerdy naivete and wild physical comedy. Unlike some Felixes I have seen, this Felix never comes off as feminine or dainty, even when he comes out of the kitchen in a frilly pink apron. He's a small man, especially as compared to Charles Leggett's Oscar Madison, but he's wiry. And you can actually feel the character's tension and uncertainty.
As Oscar observes, even his buddy's hair is clenched.
Leggett's Oscar was just not quite right in the opening night show. The pace seemed too slow, his zingers landing more like cannonballs than smart bombs. He displays the right physicality for Oscar-balding, slight paunch, hunched shoulders-but somehow never really pulls off the tricky combination of sarcasm and good-natured humor that makes Oscar endearing. He just seems mostly miserable, most of the time.
Nevertheless, "The Odd Couple" is a funny, funny show. The play runs through March 25 at the Everett location. Phone the box office at (425) 257-8600 for ticket information or visit www.villagetheatre.org