Press for The Odd Couple












 Washington Post

At Theater J, a graceful and nuanced revival of classic 'Odd Couple'
By Nelson Pressley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let's start with the Friday-night group of guys in "The Odd Couple," that laughably jangly bunch at odds over poker, playing on a table strewn with food and beer. On one side, the cards are being shuffled by Murray the cop, practically one by one. On the other, an impatient buddy -- Speed -- clenches his fist and sucks his teeth in exasperation, waiting in vain for the deal.

Thus begins the symphony of camaraderie and agitation that is Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple," which is being revived merrily, and with relish for the details of annoying masculinity, at Theater J.

Delaney Williams is a big teddy bear as Murray, sweet and dim, while Marcus Kyd's gritted-teeth performance as Speed neatly sets up Williams's plaintive punch lines. As Roy, Paul Morella is a 1960s vision of manly bland imagination (black trousers, white shirt, heavy glasses), while Michael Willis, as Vinnie, amusingly coos over sandwiches (such guy bliss!) with Williams.

Of course, any account of "The Odd Couple" ought to begin with The Guys, Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. But there is something in the essentially gentle connectedness around the poker table that establishes the course of Jerry Whiddon's funny and unusually attentive production. The pokes in the ribs are nudges, not jabs, and that's the tone with Rick Foucheux and J. Fred Shiffman as Oscar and Felix. They're eternally indulgent pals, even when they want to gouge each other's eyes out.

That doesn't mean that Whiddon and company have sobered up this great American comedy, which is as hard-wired as any in our culture. (Oscar's the slob, Felix is unbearably neat and curiously handy in the kitchen, and both their wives have left them for reasons that become obvious as they drive each other nuts.) Simon keeps the gags coming, and this cast of accomplished D.C. actors is too savvy to let his primo punch lines go to waste.   KEEP READING  

Washington Life

Performing Arts: The Odd Couple at Theater J

Posted on 29 October 2010

Neil Simon’s dry wit and big heart are at their best at Theater J.
By Julie LaPorte

After being kicked out of the house by his wife, Felix Ungar moves in with his best friend Oscar Madison. Soon the clean-freak and the slob are at each other’s throats and the friendship is pushed to the breaking point. Jerry Whiddon directs Neil Simon’s well-loved classic The Odd Couple at Theater J through November 28.

This comic and unflinching look at divorce, loneliness and the importance of friendship takes place in Oscar Madison’s eight-bedroom apartment. Oscar Madison, played by Associate Artist-in-Residence Rick Foucheux, is a charming, but sloppy sports writer who barely makes ends meet. Felix Ungar, played by J. Fred Shiffman, is a neurotic, but loveable news writer whose  obsession with the domestic arts drives those around him crazy. These two bring new life and their own personal stamp to this central relationship that has been made famous by the movie and television show. KEEP READING

 Washington Examiner

 Theater J’s ‘The Odd Couple’ a sharp take on the classic
By: Barbara Mackay
Special to The Examiner
October 29, 2010

One reason certain Neil Simon comedies can be performed season after season without boring us is that Simon is the Jane Austen of modern New York conversation: He understands dialogue. And when a group of seasoned actors, like those currently at Theater J, gather to perform Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” the art of conversation takes over, wooing the audience with its quick, sharp-witted patter.

Of course, the plot makes “The Odd Couple” a classic, too. Who can resist being amused as these totally opposite types — the slovenly Oscar and the orderly Felix — try to co-exist peacefully for three weeks? Simon mines that impossibility for all it’s worth.

In the Theater J production, Oscar is portrayed with appropriate messiness by Rick Foucheux. Foucheux gives a convincing performance of a man who couldn’t care less about how his apartment looks, how his food tastes or even whether it’s served on a clean dish.   KEEP READING


DC Theatre Scene

The Odd Couple
October 28, 2010 By Tim Treanor

The years, and an intervening, long-running TV show, have fuzzed our memories of what Neil Simon’s great comedy was about, but Theater J’s fine production will set us straight. Oscar Madison (Rich Foucheux) and Felix Ungar (J. Fred Shiffman) are not stock comic characters, cranky and neurotic in turn, but unhappy men with deep emotional problems, who are as dependent on each other as partners in a three-legged race. Though not all pain is funny, all real humor derives from pain, and thus Foucheux and Shiffman are, together, achingly funny.

Director Jerry Whiddon acknowledges the dramatic basis of this comedy by rounding out Oscar’s Friday night poker game with four first-rate dramatic actors – Delaney Williams as Murray the cop, Michael Willis as Vinnie, Paul Morella as Oscar’s accountant, Roy, and Marcus Kyd as the cigar-smoking, constantly outraged Speed. These four actors, who buy into their comic characters’ inadequacies completely and thus sell them completely to us, largely carry the first Act, while we are adjusting to the outsized deficiencies of Oscar and Felix. By the second Act we understand the two main characters fully, and the play soars.  KEEP READING


Theater Review: The Odd Couple

Print Oscar and Felix, still hilarious five decades later

By Leslie Milk   Published Wednesday, October 27, 2010

***½ stars out of 4

Neil Simon is a very funny guy. His comedy about two middle-age divorced men living together in New York City was a smash on Broadway, spawned both a hit movie and a long-running TV series, and still tickles the funny bone. Never was a better marriage made in humor heaven than the union of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. Now it’s onstage again at DC’s Theater J.

Oscar (Rick Foucheux) is a divorced sportswriter living in slovenly splendor in an eight-room apartment, hosting a weekly poker game for his oddball buddies, and hoping to get lucky with one of the two loony British sisters who live in his building. When Felix (J. Fred Shiffman), one of the poker pals, is tossed out by his wife, Oscar invites him to share the apartment.

Faster than you can say “Lysol,” Felix transforms the place into a clutter-and germ-free environment with coasters to protect the poker table from wet glasses and an air-cleaning machine to get rid of Oscar’s cigar smoke. Felix cooks. Felix cleans. Felix keeps track of every penny of their expenses. The closest thing Felix has to a hobby is his hypochondria. Felix honks to clear his sinuses and moans endlessly about his various other ailments.  KEEP READING 


Washington Post Feature 

An 'Odd' play for Theater J
Theater J stages "The Odd Couple." (David Polonsky)
By Jonathan Padget
Friday, October 22, 2010

Theater J is known for tackling some of the toughest issues in town. It's the go-to company for hard-hitting, often brand-new fare, from "Honey Brown Eyes" (Bosnian war savagery) to "Benedictus" (Jewish-Muslim relations against the backdrop of the Iranian nuclear threat) to "Something You Did" ('60s radicals grappling with a murderous legacy).

So it may seem a little, well, odd that Theater J is tackling "The Odd Couple."

The Tony-winning 1965 comedy - about mismatched roommates Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, a neat freak and super-slob thrown together in the wake of marital discord - was an early smash for one of Broadway's most prolific hitmakers, Neil Simon. And it spawned a successful film, long-running sitcom and countless productions across the country, including Broadway revivals in 1985 with Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno (as "Florence" and "Olive"), and in 2005 with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

Yet despite the show's pop-cultural ubiquity and commercial patina, Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth has no qualms about championing Simon alongside Arthur Miller as "twin pillars of the American Jewish canon and American theater in general."   Keep Reading