The Unlikely Lads present 2002: a personal space oddity
Chances are you have met Oscar and Felix, the beloved mismatched roomies from the legendary 1965 Broadway comedy turned hit movie in 1968, turned popular television show in the 1970s, The Odd Couple. But odds are you are yet to be acquainted with their modern counterparts in Oscar and Felix: A New Look at The Odd Couple. In 2002, Neil Simon rendered the script that inspired countless spin-offs with a modern twist, and from October 2, the Copenhagen Theatre Circle will formally introduce you to the oddball couple of this century.
Simon’s iconic play follows two hilariously incompatible roommates: the neat, anxious and fussy mummy’s-boy Felix Unger (played by Raymond Shinn) and the polar-opposite Oscar Madison (played by Micah Epstein), an easy-going, independent and slovenly bachelor.
Oscar, whose wife kicked him out years before, lives as he pleases, hosting regular poker games with his boisterous pals in his apartment that closely resembles a pigsty. Recently separated from his wife, with nowhere to turn and feeling lowly and suicidal, Felix shows up at the door of his best friend Oscar, who allows him to stay at the apartment for a short while.
Said to be too nervous to actually kill himself, Felix sticks around, and it’s no surprise that the pair quickly start to drive each other crazy. Hilarity ensues as Felix gradually implodes due to the disarray of the apartment, and Oscar goes ballistic over Felix’s nit-picking and incessant cleaning, vacuuming and recleaning. Even the poker game suffers when Roy stomps out after discovering that Felix has disinfected the deck of cards. And then finally everything goes bust when Felix ruins Oscar’s chances for an evening of romance with the steamy Costazuela sisters.
It may be that the pair is a match made in hell, but that’s all the more reason to ensure there is good chemistry between the actors. Director Lisa Buckley admits she witnessed sparks fly long before Oscar and Felix came along. “I worked with Micah and Ray during The Importance of Being Earnest and there was great chemistry between the two actors, despite them never actually acting together on stage at any time!”
Buckley, who arrived in Denmark a little over a year ago, brings a wealth of theatre experience to CTC having acted all her life, run her own theatre group and directed for over ten years. But the stage hasn’t always been a rosy place for the Irish expat. Her father was an amateur actor and director who turned professional at the age of 50, but sadly suffered a fatal heart attack after coming off stage during As You Like It at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. Despite such tragedy, Buckley finds great joy in theatre: “What I relish as a director is seeing the characters develop during rehearsals and the cast bonding as a unit.”
If you’re sceptical about Neil Simon’s remastering of the classic play, you needn’t worry when it comes to the laughs department. A recent review in Arts Atlanta confirms that “the humour throughout is still charming, appealing, fleet and inoffensive.” The funniest scenes are said to be the poker game sequences as the witty repartee among the six friends is hilarious no matter how many times you hear it. “Neil Simon is a word master, and the script is very sharp and witty,” explains Buckley.
Shinn admits it was difficult stepping into the shoes of Felix. “For any actor who is playing a well-loved, well-known character like Felix, the trick is how to make the character your own, personal version, and not just an imitation of the well-known version.”
The Odd Couple is one of the most successful and frequently revived comedies ever made, and it’s easy to see why: the enduring and recognisable characters. We’ve all bunked with a perfectionist roomie like Felix or know a slobbish and unshaven bachelor like Oscar. And perhaps you’ve been polishing your finest silver, only to see the reflection of Felix staring back at you. There’s a little oddness in us all.
Oscar and Felix: A New Look at The Odd Couple
Krudttønden, Serridslevvej 2, Cph Ø; starts Wed, ends Oct 12, performances October 2-6 & 8-12, weekdays 19:30, weekends 17:00; Tickets: 140kr from www.ctcircle.dk; group discounts available from firstname.lastname@example.org