Everyone knows Felix and Oscar.
Maybe not the characters in Neil Simon’s play The Odd Couple. But everyone has come across a sanctimonious neat freak and an uncouth layabout.
Brant theatregoers can spend some time with the comically mismatched roommates made famous on the silver screen by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau during Paris Performers Theatre’s production of The Odd Couple, running this month at the Paris Fairgrounds.
It’s the dynamic between the diametrically opposed characters that creates the humour, said director George Fowlie.
“We all know slobs, but like them. We all know fuddy-duddies, and we like them too. We just don’t have to live with them,” Fowlie said during a rehearsal. The director said Simon’s script mines the unlikely pairing for comedic gold.
“It’s well-written comedy, and it’s a lot of fun,” Fowlie said.
“It’s a classic,” agreed Stephanie Christiaens, who plays Gwendolyn Pigeon. She said many audience members familiar with the film or television show will be anticipating well-known lines.
That level of familiarity puts a bit of pressure on the leads. However, veteran actors Rick Toews, who plays Felix and Greig Graham, who plays Oscar, have shared the stage so many times that their bickering when in character is but an extension of their offstage friendship, Toews joked.
“It’s a barrel of laughs. I think everybody in the audience can see themselves in one of these characters,” Toews said. “As an actor, when you get an opportunity to do something that’s not so close to your own personality, it’s a lot of fun, because you get to dig around and find those idiosyncrasies.”
Toews also has a long history with Fowlie – all the way back to high school, in fact, when Fowlie, an English teacher, directed Toews in a play at Brantford Collegiate Institute.
“I always enjoy working with George,” Toews said.
The Odd Couple is a witty, family-friendly play that is sure to leave audiences delighted, Fowlie said.
“I think people are going to get a good laugh, which is our goal,” added Toews.
Showtimes for The Odd Couple are 8 p.m. on Feb. 15, Feb. 16, Feb. 21, Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, with 2 p.m. matinees on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24. Tickets are available at Green Heron Books in Paris, by calling 519-302-0169 or by visiting www.parisperformerstheatre.blogspot.ca.