Sunday 26 May 2024

The Odd Couple REVIEW 23 May 2024 ****


Written by Neil Simon

At  Comedy Theatre, Melbourne until 23 June 2024

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: **** (4)

This review is published only on this blog. I’ll present a radio review on Arts Weekly on 3MBS on Sat 1 JUNE 2024. KH

Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson (c) Pia Johnson

Neil Simon’s play, The Odd Couple, is witty, often laugh out loud observational humour about two quirky characters and their even quirkier relationship. The man was a comic genius!


Although Simon’s characters became household names because of the television series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, and the movie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as the eponymous odd couple, this 1965 stage version preceded both.


The focus of the narrative and most of the comedy is the relationship between Oscar (Shane Jacobsen) and Felix (Todd McKenney), friends who are polar opposites: Oscar is a scruffy, grubby, divorced and grumbling sportswriter who lives in relative squalor in an eight-room house; Felix is a straightlaced, hypochondriacal, socially dysfunctional misfit, whose wife recently booted him out because she couldn’t stand him anymore.


The peculiar friendship between Oscar and Felix was based on a weekly poker game with their four pals. When Oscar invites Felix to move into his big empty house, it becomes more than sharing space. They are like a squabbling, old married couple who have completely different modes of living: Felix is obsessively tidy, loves to cook and clean, doesn’t like to socialise, cries a lot and complains about his health; Oscar loves to drink, gamble, cavort, mess up the house and clean nothing. They are genuinely the odd couple.


These glaring differences, of course, are the basis of Simon’s comedy. The clash of personalities and lifestyles becomes ridiculous and more exaggerated as the story progresses, until finally Oscar cannot bear Felix anymore.


Mark Kilmurry’s direction of this production is deft and playful. Jacobsen is suitably rambunctious and bulldog-ish as the increasingly intolerant Oscar, while McKenney is appropriately nervy and annoying –  or rather, maddening – as Felix.


The entire supporting cast is versatile and hilarious: Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee are very funny as the twittering, girlish and totally in-sync British sisters, Cecily and Gwendolyn (Yes, their names are drawn holus bolus from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest).


Oscar and Felix’s poker playing buddies – Laurence Coy as Speed, Anthony Taufa as Murray, John Batchelor as Roy and Jamie Oxenbould as Vinnie – are as eccentric as their hosts and provide plenty of laughs, particularly in the opening scene before Oscar and Felix arrive. This is a versatile and vibrant cast.


The Odd Couple is almost a can’t-fail show and Kilmurry’s production is clearly a hit with audiences.


by Kate Herbert



Shane Jacobsen – Oscar

Todd McKenney – Felix

Lucy Durack – Cecily Pigeon

Penny McNamee – Gwendolyn Pigeon

Laurence Coy – Speed

Anthony Taufa – Murray

John Batchelor – Roy

Jamie Oxenbould – Vinnie.


Creative Team

Directed by  Mark Kilmurry

Designer - Justin Nardella

Lighting Designer - Trudy Dalgliesh

Sound Designer - Michael Waters.

Shane Jacobson with poker players (c) Pia Johnson

Shane Jacobson, Todd McKenney, Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee (c) Pia Johnson

Saturday 18 May 2024


Today I talk briefly with Nick Tolhurst about Norm & Ahmed at La Mama, focussing on the issue of the final line which has an expletive and a racial slur.

 In `968 the show was raided at La Mama for obscenity. Now it would be the racial slur. Then we talk about issues that are controversial in theatre these days.

Saturday 4 May 2024

KATE HERBERT LUNG Arts Weekly 3MBS Sat4May2024

In this week's radio spot, I review:

 Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by Bell Shakespeare


RBG: Of Many, One, by Suzie Miller with Heather Mitchell who gives an exceptional, solo performance.


Friday 3 May 2024

Interview- LUNG-David Astle-Evenings ABC 774 THURS 02 MAY 2024

This is the interview about LUNG a radio play performed on the stage at La Mama. David Astle talks to Kate Herbert, writer of LUNG, and Nancy Black, director. It runs 7-19 May 2024.