The Odd Couple in Newport Makes for an Oddly Pleasant Night

oddThe Odd Couple, now playing at Newport Playhouse, is a bachelor-centric story about the relationship between two recently divorced men, their lovable card playing cronies and, albeit vaguely, the women who satellite around them.

Oscar, played by Fred Davison, is an easy going, devil-be-damned sports writer who lives in a dirty, eight-room apartment in New York. Oscar is amusingly unperturbed about being divorced, broke, slovenly and irresponsible with childcare costs — personal qualities his poker buddies Vinnie, Murray, Speed and Roy frequently chide him about. Felix, a hypochondriac anal-retentive member of the crew, is uncharacteristically missing on this particular night. He turns out to be going through a divorce and possibly suicidal thoughts, something the group fumbles to deal with once he turns up at the apartment. Oscar decides to support Felix by offering up a room in his spacious apartment, and hilarity ensues as the two learn to deal with each other’s eccentricities. Flirty and dirty sisters Cecily and Gwendolyn come onto the set for some much-needed perspective and fun. They are both separated, too, and are dealing with it in their own ways.

John Robert Failoa, who both directed the play and stared as Felix, portrays the role in the affected mid-century TV mode you’d expect, while the rest of the actors seem to do a modern take. Vinny, played by Anthony Caparo, wins your heart over as he reinforces the “dim-witted whipped husband” role. He is adorable and instantly likeable. In fact, the crew around the poker table make you wonder if this isn’t what they really do, off stage, when they get together: pick at each other, share dreams, fears and complain.

The Odd Couple was written in 1965 by Neil Simon and has since been turned into a movie, TV series and other spinoffs. The title accurately describes the relationship between Felix and Oscar as they project their animosity and love for their ex-wives onto each other in the new space that is post-divorced life. Embedded is a note about male repression that will keep you thinking about the play long after the bow (think “Mad Men” without the cool furniture and a lot less women). Written at a time when divorce was a hot issue and when feminism was spelled with a capital F, this play none-the-less translates beautifully to a modern setting that evokes the type of banter one might see between grandparents — hokey, cute, and often laugh out loud funny.

The Newport Playhouse offers a buffet dinner before the play, and a quirky, frequently raunchy, cabaret post production. Do all three for the full effect, or come for the play alone; either way, it’s worth the trip.

Runs through November 22nd at the Newport Play House and Cabaret Restaurant, 102 Connell Highway, Newport. 401-848-7529.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove that you are human *

Previous post:

Next post: