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THEATER REVIEW: North Coast’s “The Odd Couple”

Brown and green sandwiches that have sat for two weeks in a fridge with no electricity may not be your idea of party fare, but then you’re not Oscar, Neil Simon’s favorite slob, to whom food is much less important than the cards you play.

Oscar (Matt Thompson) is a New York sportswriter who hosts a weekly poker game in his disheveled apartment for buddies Murray (Bernard X. Kopsho), Speed (John Nutten), Vinnie (Cris O’Bryon) and Roy (Albert Park).

When the guys start wondering what happened to the usual seventh member of the gang – the maddeningly fastidious Felix (Louis Lotorto) – Oscar calls Felix’s wife and finds out he’s suicidal because of their impending divorce.

A few anxious hours later, Felix finally shows up, every bit as down in the dumps as his wife had described. To help him out, Oscar invites, nay insists that he move in.

Yep, it’s “The Odd Couple” – the fanatical ashtray cleaner and the guy who wears whatever socks he can find, clean or not. You can guess how that works out. Even a planned dinner with the two British birds upstairs (well played by Callie Prendiville and Amanda Schaar) manages to go awry.

The world has been watching these two friends drive each other crazy onstage (or on film) since 1965. Yet the story is still both funny and relevant, because the characters ring true and we all know people like Oscar and Felix.

North Coast Repertory Theatre offers you the chance to watch their antics through May 12, under the sprightly direction of Andrew Barnicle.

Thompson and Lotorto are perfect foils as Oscar and Felix – the opposites that definitely do not attract, at least not when under the same roof.

Kopsho’s Murray is convincing as the cop who cares but really wants to play; O’Bryon funny as the henpecked Vinnie. Park’s Roy (Oscar’s accountant) and Nutten’s Speed round out the group of recognizable characters.

“The Odd Couple” is an old chestnut, but with this cast and Barnicle’s fine direction, it somehow seems new.

The details

“The Odd Couple” plays through May 12 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach.

Wednesday and Sunday at 7 pm; Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.

Tickets: (858) 481-1055 or HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.