Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Odd Couple (Female Version)
The Adobe Theater
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of Into the Woods

Gloria Goodman and Stephanie Jones
Photo by Rhonda Sigler-Ware
The Odd Couple (Female Version) is the re-imagining of Neil Simon's classic comedy featuring women in all the men's roles and men in the women's roles. Set in the 1980s, this adaptation opened on Broadway in 1985 and seems very dated. At the risk of offending legions of Neil Simon fans, Doc Simon's adaptation simply does not work.

Oscar and Felix have become Olive and Florence, and they and their female friends are playing Trivial Pursuit. The "suitors" are now two immigrant brothers with limited English from upstairs looking for some fun. Beyond this, few other changes were made. Where it may be funny to see Felix flitting around emptying ashtrays, his counterpart, Florence, looks perfectly natural cleaning up neurotically.

Humor, especially of the old Catskill variety, may indeed be more gender based. Keeping most of the original script reduces the female characters to caricatures. Simon and his longtime director, Gene Saks, may have thought they were striking a blow for feminism. But this play is not really feminist.

Except, of course, that it does give six talented female actors a chance to play in a still rather fun, slapstick farce and deliver Neil Simon's crowd-pleasing zinger lines. The Adobe Theater has assembled a talented cast for their production. Led by Stephanie Jones as Olive Madison, the play moves with a crackerjack pace. Ms. Jones has a formidable physical presence and a deep growl in her voice. She is able to deliver those zingers well–a perfect female embodiment of Oscar. Gloria Goodman is less successful as Florence Unger, the ditzy hypochondriac and compulsive cleaner. She is often shrill and looks too disheveled to be a neat freak. Her timing, however, is spot on and her befuddlement believable.

Supporting the leading ladies are Kristin Herrnstein Cooper, Kimberley Peters, Mary Kay Riley, and Jennifer Benoit as the friends and game players. All bring a straightforward charm to their roles and manage to delineate each character with limited exposure. Yannig Morin and Isaac Dean Carrillo play Manolo and Jesus Constazuela, the suitors. They nearly stop the show with their deadpan delivery. Indeed, Neil Simon may write men better than women.

The physical aspects of the production are adequate. Adobe's stage is often a living room box set, but it's appropriate for this show. But after Florence moves in and makes changes, I would expect to see more drastic design changes. More added color and modern art work could have provided another dimension for the action.

The '80s costumes are a mixed bag. Kristin Cooper really rocks her police uniform, and Stephanie Jones has at least two flashy, over-the-top outfits that suit her bigger than life personality. The gentlemen suitors are perfect in polyester suits with Hawaiian shirts. I'm not sure that Mary Kay Riley's ensembles are '80s designs, but they look great on her model-thin figure. I'm afraid the frocks chosen for Gloria Goodman as Florence are too frumpy for her obsessively buttoned-up personality.

Director Georgia Athearn has cast the play well and moves all the action along with professionalism. The laughs are timed well. The ending seems to just trail off, but this is probably a deficit in the script.

The whole theatrical experience is nostalgic in a good way. This is a fun, light comedy and a great evening in the theater.

The Odd Couple (Female Version) runs through March 24, 2024, at The Adobe Theater 9813 4th Street NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 21, 7.30 p.m. (tickets $10). General admission $24, discount $20, students $15. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505-898-9222.

Directed by Georgia Athearn, Set Designer Gloria Goodman, Costume Designer Jason Godin, Lighting Designer Jerry Hines. Cast:Kristen Herrnstein Cooper, Jennifer Benoit, Mary Kay Riley, Kym Peters, Stephanie Jones, Gloria Goodman, Yannig Morin, Isaac Dean Carrillo, Austin Lindsey.