Comedy by Neil Simon. Made famous by the hit film starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon - two divorced poker-playing friends decide to flat-share - but unfortunately they have totally opposite views of how to keep house. In Neil Simon's own female rewrite 'Oscar and Felix' become 'Olive and Florence' and it's no longer men playing poker; it's women playing Trivial Pursuit, with hilarious consquences!
The Odd Couple - Original London West End Production 1966
Opened 12 October 1966, Closed 30 September 1967 at the Queen's Theatre
The original cast featured Jack Klugman as 'Oscar Madison' and Victor Spinetti as 'Felix Ungar' with Rex Everhart as 'Murray', John Sterland as 'Vinnie', Ken Wayne as 'Speed', Matt Zimmerman as 'Roy', Rosemary Martin as 'Gwendolyn Pigeon' and Patricia Brake as 'Cecily Pigeon'. Directed by Harvey Medlinsky and Mike Nichols with designs by Oliver Smith and lighting by Joe Davis. Ken Wayne took over the role of 'Oscar Madison' from Monday 26 June 1967.
The Odd Couple - 1st West End Revival 1996
Previewed 19 June 1996, Opened 26 June 1996, Closed 12 October 1996 at the Haymarket Theatre
The cast featured Jack Klugman as 'Oscar Madison' and Tony Randall as 'Felix Ungar' with Ron Aldridge as 'Murray', Trevor Bannister as 'Roy', Rodney Bewes as 'Vinnie', Henry McGee as 'Speed', Fiona Hendley as 'Gwendolyn Pigeon' and Sarah Payne as 'Cecily Pigeon'. Directed by Harvey Medlinsky with designs by Julie Godfrey and lighting by Jenny Cane.
The Femail Odd Couple - Original West End Production 2001
Previewed 17 April 2001, Opened 23 April 2001, Closed 23 June 2001 at the Apollo Theatre
The West End premiere of Neil Simon's comedy The Female Odd Couple starring Jenny Seagrove and Paula Wilcox
The cast stars Jenny Seagrove as 'Olive Madison' and Paula Wilcox as 'Florence Ungar' along with Lavinia Bertram, Tracey Childs, Hilary Crane, Sue Holderness, Vincent Carmichael and Qarie Marshall. Directed by Elijah Moshinsky with designs by Julie Godfrey and lighting by David W Kidd. Paula Wilcox's West End credits include Sue Townsend's The Queen and I (Vaudeville Theatre 1994). Elijah Moshinsky's credits include Matador the Musical (Queen's Theatre 1991). Neil Simon's West End credits include The Goodbye Girl starring Gary Wilmot and Ann Crumb at the Noel Coward Theatre in 1997, The Prisoner of Second Avenue starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason at the Haymarket Theatre in 1999 and They're Playing Our Song at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1980.
"The Odd Couple just got a lot odder. First it was a play with Walter Matthau and Art Carney, although you may remember it better as a film - a truly great film - with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau before it eventually became a TV series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Now it's a play again - only this time the two bachelors horsing around in the flat are no longer sloppy Oscar and fussy Felix, but two women - Olive and Florence. Neil Simon rewrote his funniest play to give actresses a stab at the leads... The great bonus here is that we get a chance to see Paula Wilcox showing us what a neglected and lovable comic actress she is. Squeaking like a dippy chipmunk, thinking Dubonnet is 'hard stuff', she's a riot in her apricot dress and marigold gloves. She is also the perfect foil for Jenny Seagrove's Olive, a chain-smoking sports hack on a perpetual manhunt. The two women rile each other to the point of divorce. The scene when they date the two Spanish blokes from upstairs - Qarie Marshall and Vincent Carmichael are wickedly good - brings the house down. Simon's hoary, old-fashioned crown-pleaser packs in a thousand one-liners, but it is his unerring grasp of the incongruities of character, not gender, that keeps us chuckling." The Daily Express
"The one convincing criticism I have heard of Yasmina Reza's Art is that it's a woman's overspeculative notion of the opposite sex in its private moments. Men just wouldn't talk with such earnest intimacy about the nuances of friendship. So there are bound to be mis-hits in Neil Simon's mostly delightful feminisation of his Odd Couple... Whatever the truth, I enjoyed Elijah Moshinsky's production more than the Odd Couple that brought Jack Klugman and Tony Randall to London five years ago. Watched by the members of what's now a Trivial Pursuit and not a poker-game cabal, Jenny Seagrove's tough, truculently messy Olive offers houseroom to Paula Wilcox's flustered, soppily fussy Florence, who has just been thrown out by her nerdish husband - and the result is the kind of incongruity and misunderstanding that makes good comedy. Excellent comedy at times. It may be more implausible that the two women should offer a dinner invitation to the Spanish brothers living upstairs than that two randy men should try to lure pretty English sisters into their web; but the result is a hilariously weird 20 minutes... Simon is perhaps overdependent on smart, sassy repartee, but most of it reflects character. It's fun hearing a messy fridge described as one in which "milk stands up even when it isn't in the bottle" or Florence denounced for "wearing her seat-belt in a drive-in movie." The Times
"It must be true when they say there are no decent parts for women. There can be no other reason for Neil Simon to write a female version of his hit comedy about chalk-and-cheese flatsharers in New York. Does it work? I'd like to say so, but it does not bear comparison to the classic movie starring Jack Lemmon as the tidy one and Walter Matthau as the slob. Waif-like Jenny Seagrove is woefully miscast. She is an actress of substance and has been totally convincing in the past playing everything from a barrister to a nun, but she is hard to take in trainers and a baseball shirt as sloppy sportscaster Olive. Paula Wilcox, who is still remembered for her TV role in Man About The House, is much more at home as fusspot Florence. The guy talk becomes girl talk, the poker school is replaced by a night of Trivial Pursuit and the double date with the sexy sisters living across the corridor is replaced by an equally funny encounter with two grinning Spanish brothers. It may not be a patch on the original but it's still a lot of laughs." The Daily Mirror
"The situation is this: Olive is a single, chain-smoking tomboy who knows everything there is to know about baseball and nothing about domesticity. Her friend Flo has been abandoned by her husband, so Olive invites her to share her flat. Flo, happiest in Marigolds, moves in, spring-cleans and begins chasing Olive round the room with an airfreshener. When Olive invites two Spanish men for dinner, the differences between the women become irreconcilable... Jenny Seagrove, that lovely English rose, struggles, er, manfully, in her part but she doesn't look comfortable dragging on a fag held between her thumb and index finger. Paula Wilcox is a scream as the kind of woman who keeps her seat belt on at a drive-in movie. Essentially, however, The Odd Couple is no more than a very efficient, very 'lite' slice of American TV sitcom: thin characterisation, skinny plot, meagre insight. Elijah Moshinsky's patchily performed production is instantly forgettable." The Mail on Sunday
The Femail Odd Couple in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 17 April 2001, opened on 23 April 2001 and closed on 23 June 2001