“I think ‘The Odd Couple' is one of Neil Simon's best early works,” said Reed, noting that in addition to being a story that is beautifully told, the play explores the ideals of friendship and compromise.
The setting is a Manhattan apartment where the slovenly Oscar, the fastidious Felix and four of their friends gather for a weekly poker game. On one of these occasions, the guys become worried when Felix is late.
“When he finally does show up, the audience feels like they know him,” said Reed, a popular local actor. “They've already heard about how Felix overreacts, how needy he is and how he annoys everyone at the poker game.”
While the sound of shuffling cards and poker chips provides a realistic setting for “The Odd Couple,” the challenge for the cast is finding a comfortable rhythm that allows for the witty exchanges between characters.
“Six guys sitting around a poker table is basically a static scene,” Reed said. “And lines such as ‘Ante up' or ‘You want a Coke?' are just texture. As actors, we have to make things interesting through behavior and the movements we create.”
The audience quickly discovers it's those behaviors that keep Oscar and Felix at odds with each other throughout the evening. Yet, despite their conflicting personalities, these two men genuinely care for each other.
“Neil Simon did a great job of splitting the atom (with Felix and Oscar), and people see themselves in both of them,” Reed said. “The things Oscar complains about are the things he most admires in Felix. The house being clean, for example.
“That helps you understand the relationship between them. And because they're like a family, you accept their idiosyncrasies and flaws. That's what makes this play so timeless.”