Jamestown’s Odd Couple

Friday evening’s performance of ”The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon began with the announcement that the Mayor of Jamestown had proclaimed Friday to be ”Neil Simon Day,” in honor of the fact that the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown was producing their 19th production of Simon’s plays, and will soon be doing their 20th.

LBLTJ then made it ”Neil Simon Night,” with a great production of the play.

The play is a familiar one. It was a success on Broadway, then became a hit movie, then became a hit television series. The basis of the plot’s success is its characters. Oscar Madison is a professional sports writer. He lives alone in a large New York City apartment because he’s lazy and he’s sloppy and his wife has left for greener pastures in California, and has taken the children.

One evening Oscar and his buddies are playing their regular poker game, when they learn that one member of the group – Felix Unger – has been tossed out of his home for exactly the opposite reasons. He’s neat and tidy, and has strong opinions about other people’s clothes and what other people eat. The two men decide they will share the rent and save some money, but they soon find they annoy each other as much as they annoyed their ex-wives.

Simon has given each man just enough endearing qualities that the audiences can care about both of them, at least as long as we don’t have to live with them for longer than the two and a half hours of the production.

Andrew J. Garvey was very funny as the over-the-top Oscar. Jim Foley was the perfect foil as the fussy Felix. His performance was marred slightly by the fact that while everyone else’s voice seemed to emerge from where he was standing, Felix’s voice seemed to come in amplified, echoing bolts, from the ceiling. Too much microphone, perhaps?

Director Adam Owens did a nice job with making it a natural and comfortable scene. The result was a bit slow. People in New York City talk fast, and their comments pour out on top of what other people are saying. This was a Jamestown Odd Couple, but it was a nice one.

The set, by Norm Merrill, was attractive and very functional. The rest of the cast were Tara Chase, Patricia Culliton, Wayne Hutton, JR Liffner, Jonathan David Lynch, and Daniel Potter. Each was an asset to the production.

The production makes for a light, pleasant evening. The play repeats tonight, tomorrow, and Feb. 7-9 at the LBLTJ’s own theater, on East Second St., in downtown Jamestown.