David Hussy & Bobby Conte in The Odd Couple. Photo: DDP

The Odd Couple

By Neil Simon

Directed by Lee Buckholz

A review by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2021, by Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.

In these strange times, we find ourselves in, there is comfort in the familiar. Getting lost in a favorite book you’ve read multiple times, rewatching your favorite TV show or movies; it’s like wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket of familiarity. And you can’t get much more familiar than Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, arguably his most popular and funniest play.

Based on an actual experience in Simon’s life, the play premiered on Broadway in 1965 and was a runaway hit. It inspired two movies (in 1968 and 1998), 3 live-action TV series (in 1970, 1982, and 2015), one animated series (The Oddball Couple in 1975), and two re-writes (The Female Version in 1985 and Oscar & Felix in 2002). The adaptations were all of varying quality, but none of them compare to seeing the original performed live on stage with a strong cast.

That brings us to Derby Dinner Playhouse’s current production, and it’s one of the most polished performances I’ve seen there in years. Every role is perfectly cast and the belly laughs come fast and furious throughout.

The plot involves the chaos that ensues when sloppy divorce’ Oscar Madison (David Hussey) invites his neat-freak friend Felix Ungar (Bobby Conte) to move in with him after Felix’s wife kicks him out.

Hussey is hilarious as the slovenly Oscar, making the character lovable while reveling in his sloppy habits. Conte’s Felix is a bundle of neuroses, and he plays every one of them to the hilt. The two have perfect chemistry and really sell the offbeat relationship.

While their poker buddies Speed (Clay Smith), Murray (Paul McElroy), Roy (Matthew Brennan), and Vinnie (J.R. Stuart) all have individual moments of hilarity, the show is nearly stolen from all the guys by the arrival of the Pigeon sisters (Sara King and Brittany Carricato-Cox). With their extreme British accent and staccato laughter, they demand attention and get it every moment they’re on stage.

On the technical side, the show is very much up to DDP’s usual standards. Ron Riall’s set and prop design easily evoke a 1960’s apartment, nicely complemented by Alexa Holloway’s lighting, Sharon Murray Harrah’s costume, and Devon Rodlund’s sound designs.

This is a crowd-pleasing show by nature, and the audience I attended with was eating it up. It’s definitely worth seeking out. And remember, F.U. stands for Felix Ungar!

The Odd Couple

August 18 – September 26, 2021

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, Indiana 47129

Craig Nolan Highley has been active in local theatre as an actor, director and producer for more than 15 years. In June 2019 he launched a new company with Jeremy Guiterrez, Theatre Reprise. He has worked with Bunbury Theater, Clarksville Little Theatre, Finnigan Productions, Louisville Repertory Company, Savage Rose Classical Theatre Co., and WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre among others. He has been a member of the Wayward Actors Company since 2006, and currently serves as their Board President. Craig’s reviews have also appeared in TheatreLouisville and Louisville Mojo.