Theater Review: The Fireside stages The Odd Couple

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366415911670.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Jay Duffer (left) plays Felix Ungar, the ultimate compulsive, and Carlos Lopez plays Oscar in Fireside’s The Odd Couple.‘);

The stage at The Fireside often seems empty with few props to set the scene. Oscar Madison’s apartment is that of a completely unorganized man living for the first time on his own. Not a surface is uncluttered, and the poker table in preparation for the evening’s game retains the mess of previous gatherings. Ed Flesch cleverly prepares the audience for the conflict in personalities that centers the action of the play.

Written in 1965, The Odd Couple earned Neil Simon the Tony Award for Best Play. Many of his works were made into movies, and The Odd Couple also ran for several seasons on television. In an interview, Simon said he sold his television rights for a few thousand dollars, feeling the play would not adapt well—big mistake.

Carlos Lopez plays Oscar, and Jay Duffer is Felix Ungar, the ultimate compulsive. He cannot enter a room without straightening the magazines on the coffee table. Simon based the two characters on his brother Danny and theatrical agent Roy Gerber, sharing an apartment after recent divorces. Obviously, he got it right. Lopez, actually the more likable character, invites Felix to share his space when his threat to commit suicide seems imminent. Duffer, as Felix, takes compulsion to a whole different level and sometimes moves over the edge. Constant movement and strident commentary tends to be too shrill.

The Fireside attracts those out for the evening who want excellent cuisine and theater that is not too complicated. Welcomed by a gracious staff and present with dinner or lunch beautifully prepared and served, those who come for the first time will be sure to return. The Klopcic family has achieved success by giving their audiences exactly what they want. Thoroughly Modern Millie plays Aug. 2-Oct. 24, and the season closes with the annual “Fireside Christmas” opening Oct. 18 and closing Dec. 23.

The Odd Couple runs through July 29, and tickets are available at (800) 477-9505. Their packages for the coming season are being sold now. Wisconsin theater continues to thrive.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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