Transmission from Conference Land: The Odd Couple

I meant to post this over the weekend, but…conference brain. Instead, you’re getting it here.


I got interested in Neil Simon’s 1965 theatrical version of The Odd Couple after reading James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, where he goes back to the play several times when he’s looking for examples to illustrate a particular point.

It stood out because The Odd Couple is one of those cultural touchstones, the characters of Oscar and Felix made iconic by the movie version featuring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, or the sitcom with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. And, like most touchstones, it’s been worth smooth and toothless by that long familiarity.

This is not the play that James Scott Bell describes in his book. I went and Googled some details of the play and got…intrigued. It sounded smart. It sounded good.

Then I discovered it was getting a run at the Queensland Theatre Company, and naturally, I had to go. And then I learned that my friend Colin Smith, who I hadn’t seen since he played in one of my superhero campaigns a few years back, was playing the role of Murray, so I gathered together my usual crew of theatre-going peeps (aka my sister and my parents) and we booked tickets.

It was…outstanding. A smart script with a talented cast and perhaps the nicest set I’ve seen in a theatrical production in years. Everything and everyone involved in the production was incredibly on-point, making it one of those rare productions that everyone in my family agreed upon when it was done.

More importantly, it’s definitely not the play you’re expecting it be if you’ve only ever experienced the Oscar/Felix dynamic via the 70s sitcom (or, worse, the recent remake). Touchstones have this habit of being worn down over time, the jagged edges that made them interesting gradually disappearing. Seeing the show on stage brings the edges to the fore again, letting you see things with new eyes and recognising exactly how smart Neil Simon is as a playwright.

The season runs until November 8. If you’re a writer type, in Brisbane, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of Bell’s book to read beforehand and then seeing a production.

If you’re not a writer, I recommend just going to see the show. It really is that good.

  6 comments for “Transmission from Conference Land: The Odd Couple

  1. tanaudel
    27/10/2015 at 10:15 AM

    Argh! I don't think it will be on when I get back.

    • petermball
      27/10/2015 at 11:03 AM

      You’ll be missing out, certainly, though I expect World Fantasy is probably going to mollify the disappointment a bit.

      • tanaudel
        27/10/2015 at 11:25 AM

        Tried to talk my mother into the matinee tomorrow but she has to see a man about a car. So if I can't raise my other theatre-conspirator, I might just take myself tomorrow night.

        • petermball
          27/10/2015 at 12:07 PM

          If you don\’t find anyone, let me know. It\’s possible I could be convinced to go again.

          • tanaudel
            27/10/2015 at 1:31 PM

            I'll let you know!

            • tanaudel
              27/10/2015 at 2:25 PM

              Can you be convinced to go again? There's a 1pm matinee and 7.30 showing tomorrow. Either suits me equally. This might be easier by email?

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