Above – John Batchelor, Shane Jacobson, Todd McKenney, Laurence Coy, Jamie Oxenbould, Anthony Taufa. Cover – Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson. Photos – Pia Johnson.

Simon says.

Simon says, put two opposites together and see the comedy attraction.

Neil Simon says, See, it worked well enough to give me my greatest Broadway hit and spawned a film and TV series and an Australian revival sixty years after its debut. It’s good be, posthumously, ker ching, ker ching!

Simon says put a prissy person, fussy fella, in the direct orbit of a sloppy, slobby SOB, and see the comedic conflict fly.

Simon says keep it nice even though the subjects broached are suicide and divorce, a PG rating has to be protected. Keep it cutting edge as a sponge.

Simon says sixty years on, a celebrated play needs a celebrity cast to clinch the appeal, pinning the clanking tin can of commercialism to a silly ass sit com, presenting a play the audience already wants to see and has probably seen, in varying guises, many times before.

Unfortunately, there’s a superficiality that seeps through this production starring Shane Jacobson as Oscar and Todd McKenney as Felix. It settles cosy as a cardigan, misshapen with wear and washing, button holes widened, slack hitching to an outmoded fashion. Shane is egregious at aggression, Todd a tad too camp.

Lucy Durack as Cecily and Penny McNamee as Gwendolyn are pitch perfect as the Pigeon sisters, a superbly calibrated cacophony of orchestrated comedy. A successful coo.

Jamie Oxenbould as Vinnie is the most relaxed and naturally comic of the assorted poker players, a group tiresomely outdated and as superfluous as card quad in Streetcar.

Set design by Justin Nardella is a production highlight, rich in detail and nuance, as is Billy Roache’s costumes.

The personal microphone on each of the actors is disconcertingly distracting, aesthetic anathema, as if all actors are hearing impaired, or wearing bad wigs, and acoustically confounding for a “naturalistic” presentation.

What would Simon say? Neil? Neil?

Event details

John Frost for Crossroads Live
The Odd Couple
by Neil Simon

Director Mark Kilmurry

Venue: Theatre Royal Sydney
Dates: 27 June – 28 July 2024
Tickets: from $69.90
Bookings: theatreroyalsydney.com

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