Posts Tagged ‘the odd couple

24
Oct
15

The Odd Couple

 

The Odd Couple

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

October 22 – November 8 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

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Tama Matheson (Felix Ungar) and Jason Klarwein (Oscar Madison) ARE The Odd Couple.

 

The successful pairing of these two, after their hilarious antics in Design For Living (2013) make Neil Simon’s sharply penned, fast paced classic comedy the funnest and funniest night of the year.

 

With a superb supporting cast and an impressive inner city design straight out of Tribeca (Orlando Bloom might be a neighbour), Wesley Enoch’s final production for QTC in 2015 is all class.

 

High production values don’t always bring us closer to the action but Designer Christina Smith has considered every detail, inviting us in and making us feel completely at home within the walls and windows of Oscar Madison’s lofty New York City apartment…well, perhaps once it’s cleaned up. (A cityscape scrim works a treat to separate us from lightning quick scene changes). Lighting by Matt Scott (with assistant Daniel Anderson) and sound design by Tony Brumpton help to establish a New York state of mind in the stalls, while the dilemmas of living with anyone else but a cat are universally recognised. (Or say, a canary, although probably not both a cat and a canary at the same time in the same house as those with cats and canaries will attest. Actually, it was a Doberman)…

 

Anyway! Poor slovenly, beer swilling Oscar! His life is suddenly turned upside down by the overbearing presence of his new housemate, his smartly dressed and dangerously depressed, hypochondriac buddy Felix, a stickler for using coasters and ashtrays and doing the dishes before bedtime.

 

The set up is brilliant – the writing is light and lovely, old fashioned yet timeless in its innocence – and the opening scene involving a major disruption to the usual Friday night poker game with good friends is hilarious, establishing wonderful, genuinely interesting characters and firm friendships, delightful to follow. We want to see more of them, get to know them better.

 

Tim Dashwood (Roy), Steven Rooke (Speed), Colin Smith (Murray) and Bryan Probets (Vinnie) all shine, thanks to terrific choices that have clearly come from a playful rehearsal period, and the natural comic timing and well studied accents of the actors (Voice & Accent Consultant Melissa Agnew). This is beautiful ensemble work, showcasing briefly some of our favourite performers at the top of their game.

 

Jason Klarwein has never more fully embraced a role, perfectly channelling every lazy guy ever, all their dreadful habits and their appalling disregard, and truly appearing to live comfortably in the self-made mess, searching for the telephone beneath piles of discarded newspaper pages, leaping on and over the couch and upending ashtrays to make a point. In gorgeous, hilarious (entirely anticipated) juxtaposition, Tama Matheson brings to the role of Felix, as well as a cheeky little tribute to Bloom’s blue blanket, the OCD tendencies that are usually vaguely apparent from the outset of any relationship and which become more and more irritating over time. We could actually be watching any couple hard at work to keep their relationship going. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

 

Particularly enjoyable are the many moments of exquisitely executed reactions to the things we can all relate to, which are necessary to keep a household running reasonably smoothly but are dealt with in different ways by different folks. Despite the physical comedy not stretching quite as far as I’d expected it to (we never reach the point of furniture being overturned during a chase around the apartment for example, or a fully realised food fight following a bowl of spaghetti – sorry linguini – being flung across the pristine kitchen surfaces) there are nevertheless such well choreographed sequences (involving coasters and cushions and cloths and a ladle) that we end up with tears rolling down our cheeks by the end of each one. Some missed opportunities? Perhaps, but the show doesn’t suffer.

 

Here’s something I didn’t think I’d be able to tell you. So many moments in this production are in fact funnier than those in the much-loved film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau (1968), which at times, strangely, feels almost laborious when I look back at it now. It sounds like sacrilege to say so until you experience QTC’s cracking production. Each set up is beautifully crafted by Enoch and expertly manipulated by the actors. Their timing throughout is flawless and the punchlines, delivered deadpan, are all dead on. It’s a shame the English girls from upstairs (Amy Ingram and Lauren Jackson) appear to have been directed to take things a little too far over the top, presenting highly animated stereotypes rather than just the lovely silly fillies they are, which prevents these two talented performers from fitting as neatly into this production as they otherwise might.

 

Now. There’s some question again in the foyers and online over the role and responsibilities of reviewers, so often confused with publicists it seems. I’m not sure why this is because I don’t believe the ticket purchasing public is stupid (and nor are the creative teams that work so hard to stage and promote the shows). As theatregoers we can tell the difference between an informed review and a pull quote on a glossy poster, and we pay attention to the opinions of those we respect, which should imply some regard for a writer’s knowledge and experience within theatre making and commentating. (Sometimes the two worlds align nicely, and a pull quote used in the publicity leads to a well informed, well written review! Hooray!). No one needs to be pandered to and an honest response is far more useful than a shiny, simple write up that treats a production and it’s producers as if they are part of a new reality television series or a presidential campaign.

 

I don’t give star ratings and I don’t give a rave review unless a production as a complete package blows my mind. I consider my writing to have gone through many stages but the voice remains the same. I hope I’m getting closer to consistently sharing a reasonable response to a production for all its merit, and considering what hasn’t worked quite as well as it might have done, mostly as part of continuing the discussions in this country around the creation and programming of new work and also, for posterity. And also, because I love reflecting on the way creative people can’t help but tell us their stories.

 

The Odd Couple is a stellar production starring an astutely cast ensemble of some of our most accomplished actors. The comedy is solid and the aesthetic spot on. If you miss this, you will have seen our state theatre company’s AD of five years come and go without enjoying his best work. Don’t do such a disservice to Wesley Enoch, or to yourself and your friends and family. This is a terrific show, to which you can take anyone and come away completely satisfied, happy to have shared in a little bit of lovely, light-hearted theatrical magic. It touches on real issues, reminds us to keep working hard to make real connections with other humans, and does it all in the most delightful, life affirming way. You’ll laugh until your cheeks ache…and then you’ll go home to recognise the familiarity and hilarity of a life lived with your own Oscar Madison or Felix Ungar! Good luck!

 

Use this link to book before October 31 to take advantage of a special offer from QPAC.

 

 

30
Sep
14

QTC launches impressive season for 2015

 

Queensland Theatre Company Season Launch 2015

QPAC Playhouse

Monday September 29 2014

 

Four world premieres, a super star Main Stage and a five-show DIVA program lead a front row Season 2015 for the state’s theatre company

 

Queensland Theatre Company has unveiled a stunning Season 2015, the most diverse and ambitious program the company has ever staged, starring an extraordinary lineup of acclaimed actors, writers, directors, musicians and designers.

 

Four world premieres, a mainstage program of eight major works, a DIVA program celebrating women on stage and more, the season features a roll call of music and theatre greats and emerging stars  – Tim Finn, Amanda Muggleton, Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenen, Carol Burns, Christen O’Leary, Libby Munro, Margi Brown Ash, Tama Matheson and Jason Klarwein, Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck, Robyn Arthur, Dash Kruck, Michael Tuahine, Chenoa Deemal, Naomi Price, Daniel Evans, Hugh Parker, Brian Lucas, Lucas Stibbard, Amy Ingram, Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Melanie Zanetti, Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Barbara Lowing and the list goes on.

 

Directors taking the lead this year include the internationally acclaimed Simon Phillips, the prolific Roger Hodgman, Iain Sinclair, as well as QTC’s own Artistic DirectorWesley Enoch, Todd MacDonald, Daniel Evans and current Resident Directors Andrea Moor and Jason Klarwein and more.

 

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The year starts with David Mamet’s witty comedy Boston Marriage and ends with the world premiere of an outstanding new musical called Ladies in Black. This stunning adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, is brought to life by multi award winner Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from superstar singer and musician, Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House).

 

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Ladies in Black has been supported by the Newman Government’s Super Star Fund, a Queensland Government program that delivers super star performances exclusive to the state.

 

Arts Minister Ian Walker said Ladies in Black was the latest project to receive Super Star Fund investment. “This is another coup for Queensland which sees the Super Star Fund once more giving Queensland audiences world-class arts productions, as well as unique opportunities for our Queensland artists to learn from the best in their field,” Minister Walker said.

 

Ladies in Black will be nothing short of extraordinary. With Tim Finn creating the music and our own Christen O’Leary as the star, this marks the triumphant return of true musical theatre to Queensland Theatre Company’s stage.

 

“This world premiere will be a uniquely Queensland experience, and we look forward to welcoming audiences from Brisbane, regional areas and interstate for what will be a blockbuster stage event in 2015.”

 

QTC Artistic Director Wesley Enoch said that from the opening night of Boston Marriage on January 24 through to the closing show of Ladies in Black on December 6, the year is a front row offering for all ages.

 

“2015 stands as out most ambitious and wide-ranging in terms of content, actors and delivery. There’s the very funny stage adaptation of the hit TV show Mother & Son; two more world premieres – Brisbane, about the infamous Battle of Brisbane during WWII told through the eyes of a young boy, and Country Song, focusing on Indigenous country and western legend Jimmy Little, with lots of great songs and also three iconic plays: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Chekhov’s The Seagull and Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days,” he said.

 

“In addition to the mainstage, there is a special celebration of amazingly talented Queensland women in a suite of works called DIVA. For all the family we present the whimsical Argus created by Dead Puppet Society and for older ones Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, a contemporary retelling of the Oedipus story and winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.”

 

“QTC has been the leader in Queensland theatre for 45 years and in 2015 we are bringing you a huge range of professional productions that show off the best talent from around the country.

 

“Our season draws from our nationally recognised Indigenous Program, our showcasing of local independent theatre companies, partnerships with commercial presenters, plays commissioned from our New Works Program, the return of the musical and of course our very special DIVA program.”

 

“Season 2015 is another tremendous on-stage adventure, we hope you love it.”

 

Launching Season 2015 in the finest of on-stage style is Boston Marriage, the quick-fire turn-of-the-century comedy riddled with the wicked wit of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer behind Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet. Performed on Broadway in 2002, Boston Marriage stars double Helpmann Award-winning actor Amanda Muggleton under the directorship of Andrea Moor, who delighted audiences and critics alike and won a Matilda Award for 2013’s Venus in Fur.  This three-woman production will also tour to 10 Queensland regional centres in 2015.

 

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Fresh from the world premiere season at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre comes Mother & Son, the brand new stage comedy based on the treasured Australian  television classic, with an all-star cast led by Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenan together with Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck and Robyn Arthur. Written by Geoffery Atherden and directed by Roger Hodgman Mother & Son will be a highlight stage experience.

 

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In April QTC presents the world premiere of Brisbane by Queensland playwright Matthew Ryan.

 

A large scale new work starring an all-Brisbane cast including Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Dash Kruck and Melanie Zanetti, Brisbane tells a significant  story of our Queensland capital, in a year when Australian commemorates a century of service in different theatres of war.

 

 

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July 4 heralds the world premiere of the exciting new Indigenous work Country Song. An award winning script by Reg Cribb, it is based on an original concept by Michael Tuahine. Country Song is set in 1973 with the opening of the Sydney Opera House and revolves around legendary singer Jimmy Little and includes  true life experiences of other Indigenous singers such as Wilma Reading, Auriel Andrew, Bobby McLeod, Vic Simms, Roger Knox and Lionel Rose – this is a true onstage, toe-tapping adventure.

 

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In August QTC’s Actors Studio presents The Seagull. QTC Artistic Associate Todd MacDonald and Queensland playwright Daniel Evans will adapt this classic which will be performed by an ensemble of ten acclaimed Brisbane actors: Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Amy Ingram, Jason Klarwein, Barbara Lowing, Brian Lucas, Christen O’Leary, Hugh Parker and Lucas Stibbard. This will be a bold contemporary retelling of one of Chekhov’s great plays.

 

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The classic comedy from Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Award-winning American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, The Odd Couple reteams the odd couple from 2013’s Design For Living, uber talented duo Jason Klarwein and Tama Matheson – as the housemates from hell for what will be another season highlight, under the direction of Wesley Enoch.

 

Accompanying the Mainstage Season is the DIVA suite of works which  brings together five theatrical goddesses, each taking centre stage in their own tour-de-force performances.

 

 

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Chenoa Deemal tells touching, funny stories of tears and reconciliation in a celebration of Indigenous survival in The 7 Stages of Grieving, a powerful story by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman. Doyenne of the stage Carol Burns is brave Winnie, buried to her waist in Samuel Beckett’s absurd, surreal masterpiece Happy Days. Libby Munro is a deadly Air Force pilot brought back to earth with a bump when she falls pregnant in Grounded. Margi Brown Ash shares her life story in Home, bouncing across several continents as actor, therapist, schoolgirl, soapie starlet, wife and mother. And Naomi Price transforms into pop star Adele in Rumour Has it – a Grammy goddess ready to spill her guts about the man who wronged her.

 

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Season 2015 Ticketing Details:

 

 

Subscriptions on sale from Monday, 29 September at 6pm via queenslandtheatre.com.au

 

 

Phone sales available from 9am Tuesday, 30 September by calling Freecall 1800 355 528 or in person at QTC 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane, 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.