The classic comedic clash of the nebbish vs. the neatnik plays out this weekend at an unpretentious North Side nightclub.
Neil Simon's biggest hit, "The Odd Couple" stars two of Syracuse's most gifted actors - J. Brazil and Gerrit Vander Werff Jr. - as slob sportswriter Oscar Madison and clean freak news writer Felix Ungar, respectively.
Produced by Dustin Czarny's Not Another Theatre Co., the play's staged at an unassuming, dare we say unsightly blue-collar bar with the wordy name Fire and Ice Banquet Facilities at The Locker Room, 528 Hiawatha Blvd. East.
With sheer force of energy, however, Not Another Theatre Co. manages to rise above its humble surroundings to present above-average entertainment.
Accents and earrings
That's not to say this "Odd Couple" is perfect. For a show that's set in Manhattan in 1960 there's a decided lack of downstate accents among cast members. Even worse two characters, - including Brazil's Oscar - sport gold earrings, of all things. Those of us old enough to remember know that the only men who wore such jewelry in 1960 were transvestites and out-of-the closet gayblades. And Brazil's scraggly beard appears about a decade before facial hair became fashionable.
Those period details aside, though, this show deserves appreciative audiences. Simon's script about two polar-opposite divorced guys sharing an apartment is still funny after all these years, and this cast rises to the occasion to milk the daffy dialogue for a barrel of laughs.
The leads are perfectly cast. The beer-bellied Brazil stands as the archetypical man's man while Vander Werff's Felix is rail-thin and fidgety as an old maid.
As Oscar bellows boisterously, Felix complains constantly. Sometimes he fumes in silence, and Vander Werff is a convincing facial contortionist whether popping his ears or pouting over burnt London broil.
Directors Daniel and Steven Rowlands gathered a decidedly quirky supporting cast. James Uva as Speed and Greg Hipius as Murray the cop each utilized Noo Yawk twang. Two more poker playing pals are played by Alan Stillman and David Vickers, who both create colorful characters despite their lack of lines.