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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

An exercise in female acting

Starting today, UC Davis’s student-run production company, Studio 301, will host performances of The Odd Couple: Female version. The play is originally written and directed by Neil Simon. Though this time the directorial efforts of UC Davis undergraduates Stephanie Moore and Ulysses Morazan will attempt to bring out the laughter on the Wyatt Pavilion Stage.

It comes with a twist, however, that this play is not done from the original but features a reversal of the cast so that the actors are almost exclusively female, save for two. The Odd Couple: Female version centers on two eclectic characters Florence Unger and Olive Madison played here by Rachel Wagner and Annie Dick. Forced to move in with one another, the situation dissolves when the two discover the polarity of their relationship.

In a play set originally during the ‘80s, Studio 301’s vision places the characters in the mid 2000s. Dick believes the production is for the contemporary audience by keeping the jokes modern in order to produce an “uproariously funny” play.

“[The period where the play takes place] gives it a slightly modern twist,” Dick said .

The intimacy of the three-fourths thrust stage of the Wyatt Pavilion will offer audiences an experience in closeness.

Co-director Morazan claims that any laughter or emotional stakes here will impose directly onto the audience, creating altogether a “high paced comedy” of tremendous funny without the lack of dramatics in between.

“It’s the feeling of being whoever I want, emulating whoever I please”, said TJ Lee, who plays the role of the absent-minded character Vera.

The crew of Studio 310 shares this same sentiment, achieving with the idea that The Odd Couple is a balance between a professional and student production.

Studio 301 chose to produce The Odd Couple because they believe that many students can relate to the pains of moving in with their friends. When the idea of moving in is full and ready, the characters Florence and Olive soon finds out, reality is far from the subjective force of personal fantasy. Things start to fall apart, but like any great friendship they pick up once again when the irksome things appear small and the benefit of laughter appears big.

Morazan believes that in the theatre world, there are not enough written parts for leading female characters and hopes that this production will give emphasis on the need to showcase the female talent at UC Davis.

“With every five great male roles there is maybe one great female role,” Morazan said.

For this reason, Studio 301 decided to stage The Odd Couple in its female form to carry a greater cause with it, going beyond an executive choice in order to be mindful of the talent trove among UC Davis’ female actors. Aside from two male actors, the reversal of roles from the male version of The Odd Couple affords a cast heavy with significant female actors.

Studio 301 believes that the female cast gives the actors an opportunity to command the audience towards their display of humor, dramatics, of the roommate situation, and of how to cope with the sudden rush of life.

The Odd Couple: Female Version runs from Dec. 1-3 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. Both performances will be held at the Wyatt Pavilion Theatre located on Old Davis Road across from the arboretum. Tickets can be purchased at the Memorial Union box office, for the price of $10 for students and $12 for general audience. You can also phone in at 752-1915 for any inquiries.

PETER AN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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