Director Gill Lambourn admits she’s not a big laugher-out loud in rehearsals… but Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple is proving the happy exception.
“And that’s very rare, so far into rehearsals to still be finding something funny!” says Gill who is masterminding The Regis Players’ production which runs at Felpham Village Hall from Thursday, July 28-Saturday, July 30 at 7.30pm plus Sunday, July 31 at 2.30pm.
The Odd Couple began life as a successful Broadway play, followed in 1965 by the film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. A popular spin-off TV series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman ran for five years. Now The Regis Players plunge into the fun – the tale of Oscar, the archetypal slob, and Felix, his fanatically-precise and tidy flatmate, their poker-playing buddies and two attractive but naive English girls.
Gill predicts a genuine crowd-pleaser.
“I just love Neil Simon,” Gill says. “I have done a lot of his stuff before, both being in it and directing. I was in California Suite and also did the female version of The Odd Couple which is nowhere near as funny. I just think his dialogue is amazingly witty and clever. And the rehearsals are still making me laugh!
“It is quite broad comedy in some ways. It’s fairly typical American comedy with lots of one-liners, but also he just sets up terrific situations that are funny and that you don’t see coming. A lot of comedy stuff, you watch and you know what is going to happen. But Neil Simon makes it much more unpredictable and much funnier when you get there. He is just an excellent writer, a very slick form of humour.
“The odd couple are two journalists. One is a sports journalist. He is the one who is the slob. His wife has left him six to eight months ago, and he is just the archetypal sports journalist, a big drinker – or just the view that people have of sports journalists.
“The other one is a news reporter for TV. I am still trying to work out why he has joined this poker group. The six guys meet every week. I think he sees it as his bit of rebellion. He is very straight, but his wife has kicked him out. In modern terms, he is what you would call OCD. He is always cleaning and cooking and wanting everything to be on time.
“One of the best scenes is when the sports journalist has asked these two girls around, and there is a scene that would sit in any sitcom as husband and wife. The sports journalist says he has invited them for 7.30 but he doesn’t get home until 8pm. The other one has taken the day off work to do the cooking and has got the meal ready at 7.30. He is there with his ruined dinner saying to the other one ‘What time to you call this?’
“It’s set in the 1960s, and the two girls are supposed to be English girls that have lived in America, and they are absolutely the American idea of English girls. They are called Cecily and Gwendolyn, names out of The Importance of Being Earnest, and they speak terribly, terribly but they are rather lacking in the brain department… and you think ‘This is how the Americans imagined British girls!’”
The cast is: Oscar Madison – Paul Taylor; Felix Ungar – Patrick Hunter; Speed – Jamie Potts; Murray – Trevor Roman; Roy – David Bennett; Vinnie – Paul Ramsay; Gwendolyn Pigeon – Deborah Addicott; and Cecily Pigeon – Lizzie Emmerson.
Tickets from www.wegottickets.com/event/364533 and Felpham post office.