By Esther Chavannes
After the initial Broadway play, the movie and several sitcoms, UCU DramaCo, under the impressive directing of Lisanne, has now brought us another remake of the classic play The Odd Couple. Neil Simon’s original comedic talent was left in a pristine yet modernised state, as UCU’s theatric artists were intent on showing their best side.
Set in New York City, all action takes place within the living room of a high-rise apartment owned by Olive (played by Manuela van Vlasselaer), who makes up the first half of our odd ‘couple’. Whilst the main friend group is playing a game and discussing the woes of former and future ex-partners, part two of the couple appears in the form of Florence (played by Iveta Elisabeth Lit), who has just been dumped by her partner of fourteen years. This happening leads most to fear she will attempt suicide, or as Olive so charmingly puts it, “she could also flush herself into the East river.”
In a classic comedic turn of events, Olive takes Florence in, having been rather lonely in her apartment ever since her own husband left. It turns out that these two women are extreme opposites worthy of Laurel and Hardy. Florence is a human vacuum cleaner with vigorous self-control and habits that would drive even a house fly up the wall, and Olive is, well, the opposite, serving her visitors “either very new cheese or very old meat.” It also just so happens that the apartment complex has some new residents, in the form of two very attractive Spanglish-speaking brothers, next to whom Olive tends to forget the meaning of the word ‘restraint’. Olive organises a dinner for the two duos, and the unimaginable awkwardness that ensues was aided by some extremely convincing acting, especially by the two lead characters, who were strong throughout the entire play. This led to some high-caliber discourse, helped along by the boys’ pristine understanding of the English language: “So, you’re brothers aren’t you?” “Yes, both of us!”
Whilst in the play from the 1960s the ‘odd couple’ and their friends were all male, DramaCo put a female twist on it – although this might have had a lot to do with the infamous UCU gender ratio. The actors were a mix of both more and less experienced drama lovers, with more and less practised poker faces, and all equally motivated to show off how well their stage personas were represented by the hand-picked outfits and makeup.
For those who can enjoy a parade of witty comments and dry jokes, this was the perfect occasion. However, if you belong to the small group of people who are tired of all the witty comebacks displayed in the UCU Students comments sections and who are generally annoyed at people who have fun, then the first half of this play might already have been enough for you. Overall, the moral of this humouristic tour de force was captured quite successfully in the following quote: “I want my men romantic, not diabetic.” Same, Olive. Same.