>the odd couple by the singapore repertory theatre

>reviewed by fong liling

>date: 13 jan 2004
>time: 8pm
>venue: dbs arts centre
>rating: ****

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

                           
>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.


>>>>>THE GENTLEMEN SING THE BLUES

As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. It has been scientifically proven that laughing is good for your health. That's why comedies are highly popular; a really good comedy tickles one's funny bone and allows one to laugh from the heart, driving away one's blues and easing physical and emotional tension.

However, as everyone knows, it is not easy to do comedy or, at least, to do good comedy. The humour has to be pitch-perfect and resonate with the audience, which means the script has to be a good one. The actors, on their part, have to have excellent timing and chemistry to bring out the humour of the lines.

THE ODD COUPLE manages to do just that.

In the first place, SRT made a wise choice in putting on Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE. After all, the well-loved comedy did not only make it to Broadway, it also made successful transitions to the big screen, as well as to television as a weekly series. THE ODD COUPLE has excellent lines, and is, on its own, an extremely funny play. The main job for SRT was to find the right actors and make sure that they were able to deliver the lines well.

They found two actors who do much more than that.

>>'The main job for SRT was to find the right actors and make sure that they were able to deliver the lines well. They found two actors who do much more than that.'


Oscar Madison (Remesh Panicker) has just been through a divorce and has got an eight-room apartment to himself. His five buddies congregate at his place every Friday night for a game of poker, until one night Felix (Adrian Pang) fails to turn up. Felix's absence sparks off a chain of events. The boys find out that Felix's marriage is over, and having no place to call home, Felix is invited by Oscar to be his housemate. One thing Oscar does not expect is that Felix's obsessive-compulsive behaviour will start taking over the house, which is when the jokes really begin: when both men's personalities start to clash.

Oscar and Felix are distinctly different characters, but Felix is the one to bring in more laughs because of his uptight personality and obsession with precision and the slightest details. Pang delivers a sensational performance as Felix, having a natural sense of the way his character walks, talks and moves. Pang's comic timing is impressive, although, to be fair to Panicker, the character of Felix is an actor's dream, whereas often Oscar seems to be there mainly to play straight man to the comic elements initiated by Felix.

(The switching of roles between Pang and Panicker is definitely something to look forward to when it happens in the middle of the season. It will be interesting to see each of their interpretations of the two diverse characters, and will surely be a test of their acting skills.)


Oscar's living room is what the audience sees right through from the beginning to the end of the play (it is only the state of the room which changes). And half the time, only the two main actors are onstage. A couple of wrong moves and the play could have been paralyzed by its own simplicity. However, the cast, I must say, does a great job and they give the production the lift it needs.

My only problem with the play? Pang's Felix was so endearing despite accusations to the contrary by his ex-wife and Oscar, that I certainly wouldn't have kicked him out in the first place!

To have someone cook and clean for me everyday, day in, day out would be a dream!