Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
F.U. means what again?
2005-10-28 14:39
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Around Town

If I could go back in time one of the things I would do first is see the original Broadway production of "The Odd Couple" with Walter Matheau and Art Carney. Of course, I grew up watching Tony Randall and Jack Klugman do the roles of Felix and Oscar and have seen the movie version with Matheau and Jack Lemmon many times. Watching Lemmon, I can't help but imagine what Carney would have been like opposite Matheau. From what I hear from those who saw them it was comic nirvana.

I never did see Mathew Broderick and Nathan Lane in "The Producers" but when I heard the two were going to star in a revival of Neil Simon's famous play I thought, 'Aren't they gilding the lily?' And with Lane playing Oscar and Broderick playing Felix, surely they've go the casting mixed up. Looking at the still photographs in today's papers, Lane looks all wrong for Oscar. Remember in the movie version of "La Cage Aux Folles" when Robin Williams tries to get Lane walk like a manly straight man and Lane can't help but look like a Queen? The joke is that he's incorrigibly effeminate. Seeing Lane dressed up Oscar seems like an unintentional extension of that joke.

In an excellent review today, New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley notes:

As this set-to-a-metronome production, directed by Joe Mantello, demonstrates with such clarity, the comic languages of "The Producers" and "The Odd Couple" are not the same. The humor of "The Odd Couple" is rooted in watching ordinary guys, equipped with an extraordinary arsenal of zingers, turn each other into irreconcilable caricatures of themselves, the way people do in bad marriages. The characters in "The Producers" are stylishly drawn cartoons, shaped by the performers' delighted awareness of belonging to the intoxicating, heightened reality of musical comedy.

A similar self-consciousness informs Mr. Lane's and Mr. Broderick's attitudes in "The Odd Couple," which automatically creates a distance between them and the men they are playing. Their performances are framed in quotation marks. Mr. Lane is "doing" macho and slovenly; Mr. Broderick is "doing" repressed and anal-retentive. That's different from being slovenly or anal-retentive. And the gap between doing and being fatally exposes the cogs and gears of Mr. Simon's impeccably assembled comic clockwork.

Brantley's write up is worth checking out; the production sounds like it's worth missing.

2005-10-28 15:43:14
1.   randym77
Yeek. He really didn't like it, did he?

I never saw "The Producers," either. Tickets were near impossible to get for the longest time. And being upstate, I don't get down to the city very often.

Actually, the last play I saw in NYC was "Take Me Out." When it was still off-Broadway. I loved it. You could tell the playwright had recently fallen in love with baseball. (I saw it with a friend who was a Braves fan, which was amusing. She recognized Darren as inspired by Derek Jeter, but didn't realize that Shane was inspired by John Rocker. She about died when I pointed it out.)

I heard "Take Me Out" originally opened in London, which I find bizarre. They're not much into baseball over there, after all, preferring that funny game with bats that look like fraternity paddles. ;-)

2005-10-28 19:04:51
2.   Zack
Alex, I love that there is a post dedicated to theatre on the site, only in New York, right? I mean, imagine a post on a boston site reserved entirely for cultural commentary!

Seriously though, there are so many better things to see in NYC than a retread of a Simon play, especially one done badly. Go see "Pillowman," now that was an evening of theatre...

2005-10-28 19:05:59
3.   Zack
And on another note, I can't think of "the odd couple" without thinking of Eddy Murphy dressed in a red leather outfit on Raw doing his take on a gay version of the show. Classic 1980's...
2005-10-29 12:06:16
4.   Alvaro Espinoza
Heh - is this the blog version of a change up???

I know zilch about theater. I do recall hearing (a rumor?) that Broderick and Lane would alternate roles from time to time. I'll leave it to somebody better acclimated to speak to that...

2005-10-30 05:36:53
5.   Alex Belth
I like the idea of actors switching roles. Did you see that Clint Eastwood movie, "Mystic River?" At the end of it I wish I could have seen it again from the begining with the leads changing roles.

As to the change up, yeah, I'll occasionally use this space to write about things other than the Yankees or even baseball. Mostly, it'll be about New York or the arts, and I tend to put up this kind of post more often during the winter. Perhaps these kind of musings would be better off on a separate site but I don't have the time or inclination to create another blog.

I am conscious that some of these dips into non-baseball-related topics might be boring as batshit for some of the readers, and that is fair enough. My advice is to ignore them and move along. One thing I will always try to do is follow up one of these non-baseball posts by a baseball post relatively quickly. I realize that the majority of our readers are here for baseball and Yankee talk.

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