St Albans theatre company's flying start

PUBLISHED: 15:12 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple

AS one of the few never to have seen Neil Simon s The Odd Couple, I wasn t sure what to expect when the Company of Ten launched its new season with the female version of the play. Everyone knows Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau made the film roles of Felix

AS one of the few never to have seen Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, I wasn't sure what to expect when the Company of Ten launched its new season with the female version of the play.

Everyone knows Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau made the film roles of Felix and Oscar their own but wasn't it a tall order expecting Jacqui Golding and Chrystalla Spire as Olive and Florence to do the same on the local stage?

Well they did it - both women rise to the challenge of their roles and give the best performances I have seen from either of them.

Jacqui as the slovenly, fun-loving Olive and Chrystalla as the uptight yet somewhat devious Florence are perfectly cast.

It is all too easy to see why they rub each other up the wrong way even though they are friends - they are so completely chalk and cheese that having them live together in Olive's flat was always going to be doomed to disaster - what better formula for a brilliant comedy?

Both actresses prove themselves to be consummate comediennes, particularly with Olive becoming less and less house proud as Florence becomes more so. Watching Olive empty Florence's carpet sweeper on the mat under her flatmate's nose was utterly compelling in a cringeworthy sort of way and there are plenty more such hilarious moments.

Yet, no matter how well the two women spark off each other and they do, the funniest scene is when Olive invites in two Spanish neighbours Manolo and Jesus Costazuela.

Brian Stewart, one of the most talented actors on the local stage, and Divyesh Thakerar are brilliant as the two men, unfailingly polite in the face of two such bizarre women, one determined to have fun and the other equally determined not to.

Val Male, Jan Haniff, Katherine Barry and Jo Emery as the remainder of the two women's friends add to a strong cast who have ensured that the Company of Ten's 75th anniversary season has got off to a flying start.

The Odd Couple is directed by Brian Leveson - no slouch himself in the comedy writing department and making a welcome return to the director's chair.

It runs until Saturday (September 26) in the main theatre and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or online at www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON

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