B Theatre Productions presented 'The Odd Couple' in Alhamra , Mall Road, from 7th to 10th September. The play is written the Tony award-winning playwright Neil Simon and directed by Awais Azhar. It revolves around two newly divorced middle aged roommates.
Oscar Madison is lethargic and indolent and the other, Felix Ungar, is a neat freak bordering obsessive compulsive disorder. Both are struggling with a recent divorce. Oscar is flirting and dating already, is more relaxed and playful about life. Partly because he is also indifferent to his famaily. However, Felix is perturbed; the divorce is unwanted on his part and still not finalized. He is more sensitive, somewhat effeminate, deppressive and unstable. This difference in nature and situation causes conflicts between the two. The play is possibly a comment on US family set-up in the 60s when sexual revolution was still around the corner.
The team was youthful, even the director, was an NCA under-grad. It was amusing to see boys at the poker table, apparently still teenagers, discussing their marriages. The youngsters brought to it a new vivacity and spontaneity, they carried out the comedy of errors fluidly with natural comic timing. The two main lead actors, Sanwal Tariq as Oscar abd Waleed Zaidi as Felix appeared very embed in their character, due to their understanding of their roles and were probably the most experienced in the team.
Oscar and Felix, have a double date, which becomes a comedy circus in itself, because a freind of the girls and a freind of the guys crash the date one by one. Anam Ahmed and Mahnoor Khan appeared as the Pigeon sisters. Their role is rather a stereotypical, since the plot is very male-centric. Two very candid, funny but small characters were Melanie (Lamia Samdani) whi crashes the date and is a desperate seducer and Vinnie ( Sachal Tehseen) a frail and slightly feminine pocker player who becomes the brunt of many macho jokes at the poker table. The cast further included Umar Butt ( Roy), Omair Nazir ( Murray) and Huzefa Akbar ( Speed). All these were the poker players.
The whole play is restricted to one living room, with a poker table, couch, window, bathroom door, closet door and an entrance. The whole set-up was of course guided by the original theater script but the props could have been improved.
The time-period depicted in the play was confused. It could be anytime between the 60s to 80s. It wasn’t clear through the sets and the dresses didn’t clarify this, possibly due to a budget shortage. Though the time period wasn’t significant in the plot either. But since there were some attempts to depict the time-scale, by placing an old radio and other objects, it would have been much better if it had been clarified further.
There was no ticket, thanks to the entrance sponsors, we just needed passes. But just before the play, the sponsor, a pharmaceutical company gave a presentation. This became hilarious after the crowd jeering but thankfully this led to the presentation being winded up quickly. The hall was full, with almost 2 to 300 people, mostly teenagers but some families also. One often heard a chortle, giggle or chuckle in the audience, other than outbursts of hysterical laughter.
Over-all, the play was far well-performed than many of the professional endeavours seen in the city so far. A group of youngsters can perhaps bring the dying era of theater goers and light, family comedies back in fashion.
This piece was first publishes in the News on Sunday.