Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
The Odd Couple
Also see Stephanie's review of Shirley Valentine
It begins with a poker game and a selection of characters around the table: Murray the Cop (Mike Van Ryzin), Speed (Ryan Morris), Roy (Jeff Hudson), and Vinnie (Greg Gardner). Each one has his quirks and quibbles, but they're all sweltering in the un-air-conditioned, cigar-smoke-and-dirty-laundry fug of host Oscar Madison's (Vernon Poitras) New York City apartment. Believe me, when this ensemble reacts to the state of the divorced Oscar's eight rooms, you can almost smell it.
Oscar offers them moldy sandwiches and warm drinks while his buddies wonder why Felix Ungar (George A. Williams) hasn't shown up. A phone call from Felix's wife enlightens them: the marriage is over and Felix has left, threatening suicide. When Felix shows up at Oscar's with no place to go, the plot really gets perking.
Directors Tish Miller and Mike Miller have a fine sense of physical comedy that adds to the fun throughout, and the actors render the slightly slapstick, falling-down-funny shtick deftly and without trampling each other on a crowded set. The Millers, a married couple with a distinguished theater, TV and film history here, are real pros.
Poitras as Oscar in particular makes us laugh with his shambling walk, devil-may-care attitude and perfect timing. He and Williams's Felix are so mismatched that we get the playwright's point: their squabbles make them sound like husband and wife. Separated from their spouses they may be, but nothing much has changed.
After Felix moves in with Oscar, there are pros and cons to the arrangement, as in every relationship. Felix is a fabulous cook. Felix is a fussy cook and dinner must be eaten at the agreed-upon time. Oscar is easygoing. Oscar is a slob who forgets to call ahead when he's going to be late. These conflicts come to a boil when sex-starved Oscar invites the Pigeon sisters, his upstairs neighbors, to a dinner cooked by Felix.
Gwendolyn (Maureen Conheady-Trujillo) and Cecily (Lacey Bingham) Pigeon are period-pretty in flirty costumes by Tish Miller. The sisters' obvious affection for Felix makes us warm to them, too, and their tandem presence classes up the joint.
There is no mention of a music director, but the background selections are familiar and era appropriate. Special mention goes to stagehands Lucy Krall and John Moore, stage manager Melba Malone, and assistant stage manager Bridget Boyd for making set and props switches (during two intermissions and a brief break) with aplomb though in full view of the audience. Applause.
The Odd Couple, through March 6, 2016, Friday-Saturday 7:30 pm, Sunday 2 pm, The Adobe Theater, 9813 Fourth St. NW, (505) 898-9222, adobetheater.org