CENTERVILLE - Opposites attract, then they drive each other up the wall.
In CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s current production of “The Odd Couple,” running now through July 5 at the Leishman Performance Hall, emotional conflict translates into a night of classic zingers and dramatic physical comedy. After all, even the darkest emotional truths are easier to take when everyone is making funny noises.
For those not familiar with the show, Felix is a very organized man who becomes suicidally distraught after his wife leaves him. Oscar, his very messy friend who has also been through a divorce, invites him to move in. Felix wants to pay Oscar back by keeping his apartment organized, but soon their very different styles cause contention everywhere from poker night to their dating lives.
Director Eric Jensen is very aware of the physical comedy inherent in the play, from Felix’s allergy routine to a beleaguered police officer keeping his gun away from his nervous, over-enthusiastic friends. Fans of the long-running TV series will find plenty to love in the show, which carries much of the same broad, goofy spirit.
Rusty Bringhurst is a powerhouse as Oscar, a man fueled by emotional energy who is clearly used to crashing through life. Bringhurst has a great touch with physical comedy Р his miming of a kiss was the most entertaining one I’ve seen Р and some of the funniest bits came when he silently ordered the crew members around like a frustrated director. This is clearly a man whose default setting is full blast, and he’s not afraid to show it.
Patrick Harris is slightly more reserved as Felix, a very conscientious man who wants his world organized in a specific way. Harris brings a precise edge to everything his character does, including the exaggerated pain in his shoulders, and a wry sense of humor that occasionally bubbles up at key moments. At the same time, the pain he’s in over his dissolved marriage is entirely believable.
What’s also surprisingly believable is the relationship between the two men. Despite his words, Bringhurst makes it clear that Oscar is worried about Felix, and he shows a blunt concern that can be oddly sweet. Harris, on the other hand, makes it clear that Oscar is Felix’s emotional rock. He may have crashed the poker game looking for support, but the person he was really looking to talk to was Oscar. It may be hard to imagine what drew the two men together in the first place, but the bond between them is clear.
Rob MacArthur is entertaining as the frazzled Murray, possessed of both a very mobile expression and the long-suffering tone of the only sane man in a room full of crazy people. Mark Green is equally good as Vinnie, his slightly nervous tone making even the most innocuous statement sound like the setup for a joke.
For tickets or more information, call 801-298-1302 or visit centerpointtheatre.org.