The first review is in (Sunday, July 1, Richmond T-D) and The Odd Couple is a smash hit!
“Hilarious!” raves Susie Haubenstock in this morning’s newspaper. “Neil Simon’s beloved 1965 play still has the ring of truth. Barksdale Theatre’s second Hanover Tavern season validates their premise: classic comedies and mysteries are reliable crowd-pleasers. No playwright is more trustworthy than Neil Simon. And no Neil Simon play is more foolproof than The Odd Couple.”
If this iconic masterpiece of good humor is in fact foolproof, that’s a good thing, because we surely have a passel of fools working their hindquarters off on this production. Divine fools, to be sure. Fools who, like Neil Simon, have the ability to see what is true in life, and then make merciless fun out of it.
If you can’t laugh at life’s ups and downs, what can you do? The Odd Couple, as everyone in the English-speaking world must know by now, is about two men who are recently divorced, who decide to move in together and immediately begin to drive each other crazy. Both men are lemons, but leave it to Neil Simon to make lemonade.
“Scott Wichmann is great as always,” praises Haubenstock, “with the combination of physical comedy and neurotic dialogue, and his ear-clearing snorts are unlike any other sounds made by man.”
“Bridgewater plays Oscar as a sort of combination Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from ‘The Honeymooners.’ His quiet moments on the phone with his ex-wife are as believable as his air-freshener attack on Felix.”
Rounding out our lunatic cast are four exceptional poker buddies – Jeff Clevenger, Steve Moore, Mark Persinger and Derek Phipps – and two delightfully ditzy British coquettes – Jennifer Frank and Jen Meharg.
“The four poker buddies are totally convincing,” continues Haubenstock in her hit-making assessment, “especially Jeff Clevenger, who speaks with the music of Brooklyn. The Pigeon sisters are wacky and hysterical. Gwendolyn (Jennifer Frank) is especially alarming in her scary bouffant wig, and it’s fun to see Jen Meharg, Wichmann’s wife, play Cecily opposite him.”
With additional kudos going to Joe Pabst for his expert direction, Terrie Powers and David Powers for their well designed set, and Heather Hogg for her magnificent ‘60s costumes, the T-D review is glowing to say the least.
But Haubenstock reserves her biggest praise for Neil Simon himself, and justifiably so. “It’s no accident that this play has spawned a hit movie, a TV series and numerous adaptations over the years—it’s a modern classic. Pabst’s program note suggests that Simon will eventually join George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in the American comedy pantheon, and surely he’s right about that.”
“The American comedy pantheon.” You can’t beat a review like that.
Congratulations to all involved. And if you don’t have your tickets yet for this summer-long fun fest, please call our box office today.