Twin Beach Players’ The (Female) Odd Couple
In 1985, playwright Neil Simon revised his original The Odd Couple for the ladies and called it The (Female) Odd Couple. It’s essentially the same storyline as the original 1968 comedy, but instead of two divorced fellows, there are two divorcees, Olive Madison, a slob and savings-and-loan to her ex-husband; and Florence Unger, a neat-freak whose husband wants a divorce. Plus a cadre of female buddies who gather at Olive’s to play Trivial Pursuit — as well as the Costazuela brothers — who replace the Pigeon sisters.
The play — and Twin Beach Players’ version — makes a study of how to bring the shadow side of human nature — those things that we repress — to light: through laughter and lot of one-line truth-shooting zingers.
In comedy, timing is everything, and the Twin Beach cast — almost all veterans — have very good timing. Director Sid Curl and assistant director Brianna Workcuff cast actors made for each roles.
If you’ve ever attended a women-only (or guys-only) gathering, you’ll find art resembling life here. The ladies at Olive’s apartment — the earthy cop Mickey (Philomena Gorenflo), the saucy Latina Renee (Vivian Petersen), the droll Vera (Merle Blair) and the sharp-tongued Sylvie (Eva Miller) — trade all manner of jabs. When Phil, the ex-husband, calls Olive (Jeanne Louise) to ask for money, her friends place bets on the amount she’ll write the check for.
Missing from the scene is Florence (Angela Sunstone). When her soon-to-be-ex, Sydney, calls Olive to report Florence missing, the ladies worry.
That’s now. To catch up the story, Olive is thinking about finding a roommate when Florence opportunely shows up seeking a place to stay. There is life pre-Florence and post-Florence. Life post-Florence might be too generous an expression.
Their shadow boxing intensifies when the Costazuela brothers visit. The Costazuelas — Manolo (Keith Mervine) and Jesus (Michael Padgett) — almost steal the show. They heighten exchanges between Olive and Florence because they are their mirror opposites, Manolo being the slob and Jesus the neat-freak.
With all the banter, distinguishing cast members beyond Olive and Florence could be difficult. But Simon’s script and Curl’s direction make it easy.
Set changes also offer challenges. Everything’s out in the open — as in the play — requiring complicated scene changes. This crew succeeds.
This play would make Carl Jung, father of analytical psychology, proud. The rest of us should be prepared to undo the belt a couple of laugh notches.
Producer: Regan Cashman. Stage Manager and Props: Brianna Workcuff. Set and Lighting Design: Sid Curl. Costumes: Dawn Dennison. Lighting Operator: Anna Gorenflo. Sound Operator: Camden Raines. Tech Crew: Ana Collins, Regan Hall, Danielle Langford, Katherine Willham.
Playing thru April 15 at 8pm FSa and 3pm Su: $15 w/discounts; and at 8pm Th April 5 and 12: $7. Holland Point Civic Center, 919 Walnut Ave., North Beach: 410-286-1890; twinbeachplayers.com.