Theater Review 88.
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The Odd Couple
By Neil Simon
Translated by Shmulik Levi
Directed by Moshe Naor
Habimah National Theater
We Israelis don't go for understatement much, so in the Israelization of New York Jewish humor, Moshe Naor's baldly slapstick approach to Neil Simon's modern classic achieves its crowd-pleasing aim.
Giggles progress to guffaws as Oscar (Eli Yatzpan) and Felix (Ya'akov Cohen) demonstrate how theatrically compatible such an incompatible couple can be.
From Felix's moose calls as he tries to clear his ears to Oscar's literally hopping rage at his flatmate's encompassing ability to cause disaster, the comedy is applied with a trowel. Like orbiting satellites, Robert Hoenig, Shimon Cohen, Dror Teplitzky and Shmulik Cohen add their light to the stars' luster.
As sisters Juanita and Adriana from Argentina, Sigalit Fuchs and Yafit Asulin provide some of the few genuinely funny moments. The production is so relentlessly manic in pace and rhythm that it can, and does, get tiresome.
The action takes place on Lily Ben Nahshon's gloriously busy set, a living/dining area that could have come straight from New York's rent-controlled Upper West Side.
Does it work, and will it be a hit? Within the parameters Naor has set - you bet.