So... Neil Simon's Odd Couple.
So far as comedic playwriting is concerned, his work is considered tops. For my part, it can get extremely tedious. Which isn't to say that he doesn't Bring the Funny, its just that there isn't very much about his humor that is unique, and his scenes and plays often last longer than they aught to
Many scenes in The Odd Couple overstay their welcome. There were parts where I wanted to shout, "We get it already! Oscar is a slob and a loudmouth, and Felix is neurotic and obsessive compulsive!"
As far as characters go, I will say that Oscar is exceedingly well written.
Two-thirds of the supporting cast is well written, and the other third might as well not have been there at all
Felix as a character is about as well-written as Garfeild.
But I knew, for the most part, what to expect of the script. I went there for the actors.
Oscar was brilliant. His delivery, his timing, his energy, everything was right on the button. And at the curtain call, he did something worthy of more applause still. During the play, he was wearing a Yankees cap, as it takes place in New York. At the curtain call, he threw it to the floor and put on a Red Sox cap.
Felix sucked. He yelled when he shouldn't have, his breakdowns weren't believeable at all, and he was monotonous for most of the play. That being said, It is at the very least a possibility that none of this was the actor's fault. In the case of every performance piece in which there is a director, the director bears at least some culpability, because he's the one saying "go with that." And judging by how the rest of the play was directed (and yes, I'll admit, how much I would like to slap the director with a glove), I wouldn't hesitate to put the blame there. Also, the part is, as I've mentioned, poorly written. Felix really doesn't work as a human character. He just doesn't fit into any semblance of the real world. It should be noted, however, that where Neil Simon failed, Jim Henson succeeded. Bert and Ernie, who are based on the Odd Couple, do fit into their world because their world is one in which a 7-foot canary exists.
My friends Jimmy and Seamus were in the supporting cast. They are fantastic character actors, and continued to earn their reputations. I really can't put it better than that.
Now, the direction... I've noted where El Diablo may have failed with Felix, but that is hardly a certainty. What is certain is that this man just has no fucking clue how to present a play to an audience. The blocking was obstructive, and he had his actors talking upstage. The first thing you learn in any kind of theater education, even at an elementary level, is that you always, ALWAYS project towards the audience, with the rare exception in which you're shouting (and even then you still usually play it as much towards the audience as possible) Furthermore, he clearly did nothing to ensure that his actors projected at all in any direction. As I said before, if you are a director, you are responsible for getting those on stage to get their shit together. This guy didn't do it at all.
That having been said, I did enjoy the play for the most part. What I enjoyed even more was getting together with some friends I hadn't seen in a while.
I've been in a bit of a rut for the past few months. A sizeable part of it is that I haven't been around my sort of people. They're the people with whom I can most truly be myself, and it's always an enormous comfort to be around them. Last night would have been awesome even if the play was without any merit.