The Odd Couple

Lori Watt and Lisa Dery, Photo by Wendy D.The Odd Couple by Neil Simon
Directed by David C. Jones
A Frolicking Divas Production
Jericho Arts Centre
March 8 to 17, 2012

Vancouver, BC: With Vancouver's theatre community reeling from the news that the Vancouver Playhouse Company is closing its doors, some light entertainment is sorely needed. Vancouver is rich in ambitious, new independent theatre companies and one such group, The Folicking Divas, has brought the female version of Simon's Odd Couple to the Jericho stage.

The Female Odd Couple, a version written by Simon for a female cast  some twenty years after his1965  original Broadway hit, features Olive Madison (Lisa Dery), an unapologetically sloppy, non-cooking independent gal and Florence Ungar (Lori Watt), an obsessive, housekeeping type, whose joy in life is to elimate any speck of dust and produce healthy home-cooked meals. When Olive lets the newly separated Florence move into her Riverside Drive apartment, it is anything but a "marriage made in heaven."

To make it more feminine, Simon changed the weekly poker game that Olive hosts for her girlfriends, Mickey (Emmelia Gordon), Sylvie (Melissa Oei), Vera (Joni Hayden-Summerton)  and Renee (Veenu Sandhu), to Trivial Pursuit - a somewhat distracting choice for a Jeopardy addict because I found myself racking my brains for the answers instead of following the dialogue. The upstairs neighbours, the Pigeon sisters, pursued by Oscar in the original version, become the Spanish Costazuela brothers, Manolo (Rafael Pellerin) and Jesus (Jose Os), a hilarious duo who Olive has her eye on.

I enjoyed the transformation of Drew Taylor's apartment set from its lived-in, messy state to a pristine environment. It made me wish for a temporary live-in  Florence of my own, though I guess ultimately her compulsive tidiness would also have driven me crazy.

Overall the cast kept the first act moving along smartly. On opening night the second act dragged somewhat despite the very funny performances of Pellerin and Os. Dery was consistently strong as Olive, but Hayden-Summerton's wide-eyed oblivious Vera was the stand-out performance for me.

The Odd Couple is a light-hearted comedy, fun for an pleasant night of theatre. It runs at the Jericho Arts Centre until March 17th. Tickets are $20 and can be bought online or at the door.

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