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The Odd Couple
Theatre Review by Joe Morris, Drama-Logue, March 27-April 2, 1997

Refreshing indeed is an old play with a new twist, which is what the Colony Studio Theatre has done with the "Odd Couple" by producing a distaff version. While there’s nothing wrong with the Neil Simon original, which holds up just fine, it’s fun to see new spirit and energy injected into a production through non-traditional casting.

Of course, it wouldn’t work if the girls weren’t up to snuff, which is no problem here. As Olive Madison and Florence Unger, Kathryn Kates and Lori Thimsen acquit themselves admirably. Kate’s Olive is nothing short of hysterical, a messy, sexual, caring tornado who affects everyone around her. Thimsen’s Florence is exactly the opposite, natch, a tidy freak who brings new meaning to anal retentive, and Thimsen invests her with wonderful, fussy little tweaks and twitches. The two together are a pleasure to watch, each pinging off the other and talking what could be simple fight scenes with curt dialogue and wringing every drop from every potential giggle from the script.

Backing them up are equally capable performers: as the cadre of gal pals, Charmaine Blakely Budaska, Judith A. Goldstein, Betty Vaughan and Sandra Kinder are fresh and funny, and as likely a group of mismatched, but caring, friends as you’d ever see in real life. It’s hard to single out any specifics in a group that operates as a unit, but Kinder’s growly Renee and Budaska’s Sylvie are fun, bitchy foils to Vaughan’s poor, out-of-it (and wonderfully costumed) Vera, while Goldstein’s affable cop Mickey makes the most of her brief appearances.

Coming in late in the game as the sexual interests are the brothers Costazuela, played by David Carey Foster and Robert Factor, Transplanted Spaniards, they have been discovered in the building by Olive, who has seduction on her mind. Florence doesn’t, and the two wind up feeling more sympathetic with her. Tossing dialogue back and forth like accomplished jugglers, Foster and Factor create two goofy, affable brothers who, like Vera, are a bit short of a full load but believable without being excessive.

Veronica Brady’s direction is demonstrative of the kind of cohesiveness attained when performers and directors operate together. This production could easily bog down in verbiage, but instead Brady keeps it trotting along at the proper pace throughout, speeding up and easing back at just the right moments. Susan Gratch’s New York apartment set is a very nice piece of work, as is lighting by D. Silvio Volonte, which sets the tone magnificently, especially in the pre-dinner scene.

There’s nothing wrong with revisiting a wonderful play, but quite often there’s nothing done to improve upon, or deviate from, the original. Happily, this Odd Couple manages to find new, different and very funny ways to be unusual.
 

Copyright 1997 Los Angeles Times 
Reprinted with Permission
The Odd Couple (Female Version) at the Colony Theatre