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The Odd Couple (Female Version), the inaugural production of the promising new Raleigh, NC-based Find the Light Repertory Company, made an auspicious debut last week at the Common Ground Theatre in Durham and will resume its split run April 7-9 at the Kennedy Theater in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Broadway King of Comedy Neil Simon’s inspired 1985 reworking of his 1965 comic masterpiece is vintage Neil Simon, and that is about as good as contemporary comedy gets.
The current Find the Light Rep presentation features an impish impersonation by Tara R. Stone as slovenly Olive Madison and a hilarious performance by Susannah Hough as the immaculately groomed and impeccably neat Florence Unger. This Mutt-and-Jeff pair, with Hough towering over the petite Stone, has good comic chemistry and the acting chops to make all those annoying quirks of their characters (e.g., Olive’s messiness and inability to say no to her whiny ex-husband when he hits her up for a loan and Florence’s obsessive/compulsive neatness and those moose calls she makes when clearing her sinuses in the middle of the night).
Albert Meir and Daniel Ramirez are amusing as Monolo and Jesus Costazuela, two handsome but barely bilingual Spanish brothers—both employees of Iberia airlines — who live upstairs and are objects of Olive’s lust and Florence’s empathy. Larissa Canina (Mickey), Barbara Sierra (Sylvie), Yadira Navarro (Renee), and Cheryl McConnell (Vera) play Olive and Florence’s Trivial Pursuit buddies — and foils. They deliver their punchlines with the requisite snap, crackle, and pop, but none of them creates a particular memorable “character.” Thus, they lack the colorful personalities that made Oscar Madison and Felix Unger’s poker pals such distinct individuals in the male version of The Odd Couple.
Director/set designer Gennaro “Gene” D’Onofrio does of a fine job of underlining the humor in the situations and dialogue of The Odd Couple (Female Version), but he needs to get stronger characterizations from the girls who gather every week to gossip and play Trivial Pursuit. Each of Olive and Florence’s friends is a “character” in her own right; and for this classic comedy to hit on all eight cylinders, the girls have to have more distinctive personalities.
Find the Light Repertory Company presents The Odd Couple (Female Version) Friday-Saturday, April 7-8, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 9, at 2 p.m. in the Kennedy Theater, in the rear of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $12 ($10 students and seniors), except Triangle Theater Review subscribers get two tickets for the price of one when they bring a copy of this newsletter to the theater. 919/866-0690. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=6653. International Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063374/. “The Odd Couple” (TV Series): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065329/.