Friday, March 22, 2013

Not a Review: The Odd Couple

I got to watch one of the previews for the Dallas Theater Center's new production of The Odd Couple.

This Neil Simon play is still funny and (once the actors warmed up a little) still engaging.  I particularly liked these takes on the Felix and Pidgeon Sisters characters.

But for me, the star of this production is the set.

Designed by Timothy R. Mackabee, these apartment walls are high and lavishly detailed with a built-in shelving unit and miles of moldings, more miles of crown-moldings, and an elaborate two-level wood parquet floor.  Crisply built.  As you'd expect at DTC, the furniture is good, including a period chandelier and great a '50s Modern style audio console.

The play doesn't actually require much: it's the realistic living / dining room of a NYC apartment with an operable window, an entry door, a door to the kitchen, and door(s) off to the bathroom and the rest of the apartment.

Of course, it's good practice to include realistic views through those doors and windows, to see a bit of the apartment building hall, a hint of kitchen, enough view of the rest of the apartment to make the place feel real.  But this set goes faaaar beyond this.  Through the windows you see a next door apartment that shares the light well - complete with drapes and lamps.  Through the kitchen door and its windows you see the kitchen... can watch Felix or Oscar open the refrigerator.  Or throw spaghetti linguine at it.  Very nicely realized.

VERY rough sketch, from memory, of  DTC's The Odd Couple set.

Now, I have to admit to a certain amount of pure envy here for the obvious size of the set budget: because all this cost a lot.  Not just the high level of finish (molding gets expensive and the floor is small pieces of real wood not scenic paint), but also for sheer quantity - there is as much set behind the set as there is on the audience side of the proscenium.  Kinda amazing, once you start mentally appraising all this real estate...

Part of me was thrilled to spot that view into the next apartment.

Part of me whispered that some of this excess budget might have been better spent on internships or  man-hours to continue DTC's former generosity of allowing poorer theaters to borrow props... like that great '50s audio console.

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