A neatly done 'Odd Couple'

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Sonoma Valley Sun

They nag, they complain, they fight over silly little things. One is a neat freak, the other a slob. One’s too sensitive, the other inconsiderate.

If this were a man and a woman, “The Odd Couple” wouldn’t be odd at all. It would be marriage.

But as two middle-age men thrown together after being thrown out by their wives, this couple – sloppy Oscar and prissy Felix — is indeed somewhat out of the ordinary.

So is a night of live theater this funny and entertaining. The local Sonoma Stage Works production winds up its Andrews Hall run this weekend with shows through September 11.

As Oscar, Chris Wall invests the Walter Matthau prototype with a springy energy and wry delivery. Deep in New York mode, Wall is the quirky king of his own castle. So what that the moat is full of garbage.

Andy Shapiro is a little more morose and a little less persnickety than his Felix predecessors. He’s feeling real pain after splitting up, and can’t quite lose himself in household chores, no matter how hard he tries or how much air freshener he uses.

The divorced Oscar prefers his wallowing done in scotch and dirty laundry.

The two become roommates after Felix shows up, utterly dejected, at Oscar’s place during the Friday night poker game. The ensemble, with its overlapping dialogue and incidental interplay between characters, is nicely directed by Roy Jimenez.

The gang runs the gamut from skinny to portly, with varying amounts of hair, and it’s refreshing. Not a golden boy in the bunch. Just a group of regular Joes, tossing out one-liners faster than Felix can clean the ashtrays.

True to its 60’s script by Broadway’s comedy king Neil Simon, the laughs are all PG-13 – the only thing blue is the stain on Oscar’s shirt. Even the goofy, giggling innuendo between Oscar and the Pigeon sisters (Luba Markoff and Kelley Miller, both excellent) is as innocent as it is priceless.

Another star is the set. The seating in the theater nearly encircles the stage, cleverly drawing the audience into Oscar’s vintage bachelor pad.

“The Odd Couple” plays September 8-10 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, September 11, at 3 p.m. $22. 938.4626 x1.

Photo: Chris Wall, top, as Oscar and Alex Shaprio as Felix.

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