By Neil Simon
Directed by BJ Jones
At Northlight Theatre, Skokie
Ageless comedy still garners loads of laughs
Some comedies are ageless and The Odd Couple, now in a fine production at Northlight Theatre in Skokie sure fits that category. Neil Simon is know as “the father of modern comedy” and his classic work 1965 Tony award winning play (Best Play), The Odd Couple is considered by many as the finest stage comedy ever. I agree. The Odd Couple set the standard for comedy that has influenced all attempts at humor on TV and stage ever since. After 47 years Simon’s classic is as funny as ever. The opening night audience laughed often.
In a treatment to financial backers Simon described the comedy: “Two men–one divorced and one estranged and neither quite sure why their marriages fell apart–move in together to save money for alimony and suddenly discover they’re having the same conflicts and fights they had in their marriages.”
A sloppy cigar smoking sports writer, Oscar Madison (Marc Grapey) is lonely after his divorce and Felix Ungar (Tim Kazurinsky) is the fastidious hypochondriac news writer recently estranged from his wife. The two drive each other and their poker playing buddies crazy in a series of hilarious scenes of pure comedy brilliance.
This ensemble piece works nicely on Jack Magaw’s large apartment set in 60’s Manhattan. Peopled by quirky characters from Murray the cop (Peter DeFaria), Roy the accountant (Bruce Jarchow), Vinnie the Henpecked Husband (William Dick), “Speed” the Curmudgeon (Phil Ridarelli), The Odd Couple is a funny show. In the hands of such a stellar ensemble utilizing timely physical movement added depth and extra laughs
The players reached down with excellent timing to new levels of humor and pathos as each struggles to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the others. Marc Graphey’s Oscar has the machismo, split second timing comic chops and the command of the stage to anchor the production. I was disappointed with Tim Kazurinsky as Felix. He appears a tad too long in the tooth to have two small children plus, while he had Felix’s fusspot mannerism down, he came off as more nerd than sympathetic fellow. Kazurinsky’s subtle quirkiness was dominated by Graphy’s command of the stage. A more flamboyant Felix was needed to blend with Grsaphey’s large presence.
But, The Odd Couple still gets laughs as Neil Simon’s biting zingers still contain the ingredients that laughs are made from. With exquisite timing, the cast lands the barbs expertly. You’ll still laugh and appreciate a master craftsman at work. Neil Simon’s ageless comedy still works thanks to Marc Grapey and his pals.
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For more into checkout The Odd Couple page at theatreinchicago.com
At Northlight Theatre, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL, call 847-672-6300,www.northlight.org, tickets $25 – $72, Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 1 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 & 7 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission,through December 9, 2012