Monday, 1 October 2012

The Odd Couple

Perth Theatre
3 stars
The Trivial Pursuits being played during the girls night say it all 
about Neil Simon’s mid 1980s female-led reboot of his 1965 New York 
flat-sharing comedy. Because, rather than the laddishly perennial poker 
school of the original, it’s that more voguishly faddish game which 
makes it look more of a period piece than it should do. That’s not 
necessarily to the detriment of Rachel O’Riordan’s bright and at times 
extremely funny new production. Just don’t mistake the primary colours 
and zingy period soundtrack, led by Cyndi Laupa’s gloriously inevitable 
Girls Just Want To Have Fun, as some cheap date hen-night extravaganza 
is all. Simon, and indeed O’Riordan, are smarter than that.

Here, then, Olive is the slobby singleton holding court to a diverse 
mix of gal pals on the run from various states of marital harmony. When 
neurotic drama queen Florence turns up having been unceremoniously 
dumped after fourteen years, the unholy alliance the pair forge when 
Florence moves in is a disaster waiting to happen. When Olive 
negotiates the date with a wilfully one-dimensional pair of Spanish 
brothers in the next apartment that forms the play’s centre-piece, 
however, things take an unexpectantly liberating turn.

As intelligent as some of Simon’s observations are on marriage – and 
it’s here the gender-bending really works – this is resolutely 
feel-good stuff. In today’s post Sex and the City climate, too, the 
wise-cracking discourse of Simon’s native New Yorkers here can sound 
rather tame. Fortunately a rock-solid cast, led by Abigail McGibben as 
Olive and Cara Kelly as Florence, deal with this without ever 
vulgarising things. Kelly in particular is a comic force of nature in a 
well-observed and occasionally invigorating sit-com.

The Herald, October 1st 2012

ends


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