WITH a racy script perfectly realised and superb stagecraft throughout, St Boswells Drama Club scored a notable hit last week with a three-night village hall run of the female version of Neil Simon’s classic comedy of manners, The Odd Couple.
This was the 62nd annual production by the company and, as chairperson Christine Lawrie acknowledged, it was one of the most challenging for cast and crew, given the sharpness of Simon’s dialogue with its free use of the vernacular.
But Christine and the players need not have worried, with audiences – well up on last year – rolling in the aisles at Simon Watson’s pacily-directed version of the fraught but ultimately enduring friendship of the fastidious, divorce-threatened Florence Unger and her reluctant slob of a landlord Olive Madison.
In these lead roles, Dorothy Jefferson and Gail Gibson respectively extracted both the humour and pathos of that relationship, and it is unsurprising that many critics believe Simon’s gender-switching effort, written in the 1980s, surpasses the original.
The commanding performances of the main protagonists were echoed throughout the cast, not least by the two male “interlopers” into the action: the Spanish brothers Manuel (Michael Clarke) and Jesus (Andy Drane) as the upstairs neighbours who agree to take in Florence after Olive’s patience finally snaps.
The stagings were impeccably observed, not least the utter chaos of Madison’s New York apartment before Unger gets her marigolds out.
The laughter reached its zenith in the final scene when exasperated Olive threw what she thought was spaghetti across the room, some of it sticking to the wall. Florence scoffs at Olive not recognising that the pasta in question is, in fact, linguini, but Olive refuses to let her touch it. “I like it,” she tells Florence.
Then, in came cop Mickey (Mairi Campbell) for his weekly game, not of poker but of Trivial Pursuit, who pulled the linguini off the wall and started to eat it without batting an eyelid – a joyful moment in a joyful evening of entertainment.