Matt Byrne has put together another amazing cast with co-director Rose Vallen keeping the original Neil Simon script alive and well.
This play has been presented in almost all forms from Broadway, movie and television series and now Matt Byrne Media at the Holden Street Theatre with a production that is worthy of being included amongst the classic performances.
On arrival the audience gladly submitted to the Covid 19 regulations which were quickly and efficiently handled by the FOH crew. They were then ushered to their seats where there were already actors on stage playing cards which signalled that the start would be on time. This timing carried throughout the play and highlighted that timing is critical and it was carried out with perfection.
All of the cast have performed in Matt Byrne’s productions previously and their ability to bounce off each other was very evident. Timothy Cousins as Murray the policeman, Gavin Cianci as Speed, Frank Cwiertniak as Roy and Russell Ford as Vinie were all convincing as a group of New Yorkers who got together regularly for poker. They were great support for the leading protagonists.
Enter Matt Byrne as Oscar Madison, the owner of the eight-room apartment where all the action takes place. He immediately invoked the character as untidy, in debt, divorced but seemingly happy with his lot in life. With Matt’s record of staging plays over twenty-six years, his commitment and ability to present good theatre was once again highlighted by this performance.
David Grybowski as Felix Unger seemed to enjoy this role as much as we enjoyed watching him. His role as a soon to be divorced, methodical, systematic maniac in direct conflict with Oscar gives credibility to the play’s theme. The facial expressions portrayed by David are unforgettable as were his reactions later on with the females.
When Bec Mason as Gwendolyn and Lauren Weber as Cecily entered as the Pidgeon sisters, who live in a flat upstairs, the play took on a whole new dimension. Their portrayal as ‘nice English girls’ with bubbly personalities had all the audience laughing. It is hard to imagine that these roles could have been played better by anyone, their infectious laughter and English intonation combined with their seductive moves added significantly to the story.
Although the American accents were present, they were not overplayed and every word could be clearly understood. The production team produced a simple but believable New York set coupled with suitable lighting that did not take focus away from the actors. Rather, it supported them.
The only very minor distraction was the sound effects such as the sound coming from SL and the phone being SR.
This production is highly recommended to anyone that appreciates quality amateur theatre. If you cannot get there “let it be on