Biola production of “The Odd Couple” delights

Despite constraints, Biola’s Theatre 21 presents an entertaining production of “The Odd Couple.”

Harmony Wheeler, Writer

In Biola’s Theatre 21 production of Neil Simons’ classic “The Odd Couple,” one man’s perfect garbage dump is another man’s never-ending cleanup job.

Theatre 21 has been turned into the garbage dump in question. The set is the apartment of an odd man named Oscar Madison, played by Biola alumnus Ryan Agadoni. Poker chips are strewn about. Banana peels and crumbs cover the furniture. A lone sock hangs on a lamp shade. Everything has its own random placement.

Enter odd man number two. Felix Ungar, portrayed by teaching credential student Jeremy Pfaff, is ever the neat freak, who is also humorously called F.U. Felix seems hysterical, threatening to kill himself after his wife leaves him. He soon finds solace in cleaning Oscar’s messy apartment, however, and the two become roommates –– hence the title, “The Odd Couple.”

Couple takes on unique roles

Felix takes on the anxious wife role, lecturing Oscar for coming home late and worrying over the roast in the oven. Oscar can only handle so much perfection and cleanliness in his home, especially after Felix refuses to have dinner with two lovely British ladies. The couple bicker, leading to an end that is, in itself, odd.

Ending lacks huge take-away

The ending of the play leaves the viewer wanting more. More laughs, yes, but also more of a take-away. Perhaps the theme is friendship, but the finale seems to nullify that. “Be grateful for what you have” might be the moral. Or, perhaps the lesson is to live life to the fullest. But I’m not too sure this play leaves a positive moral. And be warned, this is not an entirely clean show.

At any rate, the play does leave viewers with a night of endless laughter –– something this play prevails at in every way. After all, the point of comedy is to make the audience laugh, not necessarily to give viewers something to think about.

Play accomplishes goal to entertain

There is nothing incomplete in the characters, actors and sets of “The Odd Couple.” Everything feels natural. The comedic timing is perfect, and although the entire show takes place in one living room, the play doesn’t fail to entertain. Even the smaller characters have some of the most enjoyable moments in the play –– especially all of Oscar’s poker buddies in the first act.

Agadoni as Oscar and Pfaff as Felix go beyond expectations, making their characters as odd as they should be, and more so. Agadoni takes on a believable New Yorker accent, and Pfaff is fun and lovable as the sensitive, sometimes bipolar Felix. Felix’s character will earn points with fans of the title character of the television show “Monk.”

Staging adds final touch to great show

With an obsessive compulsive character in the picture, the staging has to be perfect. The staging is often what makes or breaks a show, even with a perfect cast. Director and communications professor Forrest Robinson takes advantage of every line, bringing the comedy of “The Odd Couple” to its highest possibilities. The small Theatre 21 stage can limit a director, but that’s not at all obvious with the brilliant staging of this production. Characters make use of every inch of the stage, giving all audience members a good view.

There’s certainly no bad seat for this production, that is, unless you’re far away and miss it. And I don’t recommend missing it. That would be a very “odd” thing to do indeed.

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