Manic comedy at the Dibble Tree Theatre

IT CAME as no surprise to hear that yet again a production by Carnoustie Theatre Club has sold out.

‘The Odd Couple’ written by Neil Simon, and produced in this case by Carolyn Cheape, was first and foremost a riot of laughs, but if you want to look a bit deeper it is also an interesting psychological experiment of what happens when two diametrically opposed personalities share a small space.

The story revolves around recent divorcee Oscar Madison who lives alone in a large New York apartment and is slowly driving himself insane through his slobbish behaviour and loneliness.

The weekly poker game hosted at his home has become a monotonous farce, his pigsty lifestyle infuriates his friends until one day, his neurotic best friend, Felix Ungar, fails to appear.

It unfolds that Felix is suicidal after being kicked out by his wife, so Oscar, in an act of kindness takes him in, even though he knows it will end badly, simply because he is desperately lonely.

Walter Matthau played Oscar in the 1968 film and Andy Gilbride perfectly captured his hang-dog persona and sardonic one-liners, replete with sweat-stained T-shirt.

George Doherty is literally manic as the prissy, house-proud Felix, overflowing with nervous energy and neurotic tics.

Oscar and Felix’s friends are a mixed bag. Grizzled cop Murray (Sam Ruddell) is the dependable and accurate judge of character who sees the whole sorry episode unfold from the get-go. John McSkimming is the loudmouth Speed who complains about everything.

Vinnie (David Cheape) is suitably whiny and downtrodden, while accountant Roy (Paul Strachan) provides financial advice while at the same time fleecing Oscar at poker.

The potential love interests are played by Muriel Gordon (Gwendolyn Pigeon) and Audrey Doherty (Cecily Pigeon) as English singletons who take an interest in the boys.

Praise must go to the set crew who not only replicated a New York City apartment but, were able to turn it from a disgusting smoke-filled man-cave into a well-appointed metropolitan spot during the short minutes between acts.

The costumes were very close if not spot-on replicas of Sixties chic and again, the props department provided plenty of furniture, but without the clutter.

‘The Odd Couple’ runs until tomorrow night (Saturday) at the Dibble Tree Theatre.