When first approached to direct the all-female cast of the classic The Odd Couple, David C Jones said no. After all, he reasoned, it was written in 1985 and he wasn’t familiar with the “New York Jewish snappy sitcom genre”. But the women of the Frolicking Divas can be quite persuasive.
“It seems I have gotten this reputation for being a good women’s director,” laughed Jones. “Lisa and Lori [Frolicking Divas founders and stars of The Odd Couple] saw Stop Kiss that I had directed a couple of years ago for Secretly Women Productions and thought I would be good to direct this show. I think they liked how I worked with the women. I always like to find humanism in the characters and as a gay man maybe I can find it a little faster than a straight director might.”
After finally signing on to direct, Jones says his first piece of business was in ensuring they approached the play from its historical perspective, and while 1985 may not be that long ago for some, it can be an eternity for a play. In thinking about the show as a historical piece Jones remembered an email exchange he had with playwright Christopher Durang when he had toyed with the idea of a modernized version of Durang’s Beyond Therapy, which takes place in the same decade.
“He [Durang] reminded me that there are so many things to consider when trying to pull a story out of its original time period,” explained Jones. “It isn’t just about changing Cyndi Lauper to Lady Gaga; there are so many cultural differences that it would make it almost impossible to do. When Neil Simon updated the show in 1985 for this female version he touched on the feminist politics of the time. That wouldn’t make a lot of sense in a modern re-telling.”
Despite being set nearly 30 years ago, Jones says that this female version has a lot of heart and he finds it interesting to see the how the dynamic is different from Felix and Oscar in the original and Florence and Olive here.
“It’s also a lot more empowering,” said Jones. “In the male version the men get really turned on by the Pigeon Sisters but here they become the Costazuela Brothers and the women pursue them, something you didn’t see very often back in 1985.”
Also changed is that unlike Oscar, Olive is not a slob. In this female version Jones is playing up the fact she is a hard-working news producer who just can’t quite maintain a tidy apartment because of her busy schedule.
“She isn’t a slob with half-filled pizza boxes strewn around the apartment. Instead her place is unkempt and messy because of her work life, not because she is a pig.”
But while Jones may be getting quite the reputation with the ladies, it is actually working with walls for the first time that has got him really excited.
“We actually have three walls,” he laughed. “It is really loads of fun with all those slamming doors”.
The Odd Couple (Female Version)
Jericho Arts Centre
8 – 17 March 2012
This version of Neil Simon’s hilarious contemporary comedy is set in 1985, and in it, Felix becomes Florence, and Oscar becomes Olive. The poker party has been replaced by an evening of Trivial Pursuit with the girls, and the Pidgeon sisters, have morphed into the suave and debonair Constanzuela brothers. Visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com for tickets and information.