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It could have been funnier

Bill Manhoff's "The Owl and the Pussycat," is a nice entertainer in the mould of Neil Simon. Elizabeth Roy



OF A STRANGE RELATIONSHIP: `Owl and the Pussycat' — PHOTO: S. Thanthoni

"The Owl and the Pussycat," a two-character play by Bill Manhoff, is a nice entertainer in the mould of Neil Simon. Doris and Felix are both tenants in a crowded apartment building in New York. Felix is a failed writer who works in a bookstore and owns a pair of binoculars, which he uses a great deal to observe his neighbours. Doris is a call girl who likes to believe she is a small-time model and actress. Felix rats on her to the landlord. Evicted at two in the morning she lands at Felix's door with a suitcase and a TV. The plot is the funny and strange relationship that develops between the two.

The play from the Boardwalkers last weekend drew a full house, justifying the care that went into the production. The meticulously detailed sets with several doors and a full functioning kitchen was built to perfect scale at the Alliance Francaise Auditorium. In fact, the sets seem to have widened out the acting space. It even had a rather charming skyline seen through the balcony, just off the little kitchenette. An imaginatively done lighting design and a delightful selection of music recalling the 1960s only enhanced the production.

Michael Muthu, who directed the play, also played Felix and did a very good job of it. He is an actor with a range and years of experience.

Characterisation

Andrea Jeremiah as Doris looked fetching but came through as a young, spoilt, pouting brat instead of a raunchy, foul-mouthed, aggressive woman, who is everything Felix is not.

As a result the audience didn't quite see the unlikely romance building. One also missed the reversal of characters, which is the real reason for the comedy.

While the Alliance Francaise Auditorium is a nice intimate informal theatre space, the hard dusty floor is a little rough on a ticketed audience. No wonder then some among the audience, past their teens, helped themselves to rickety chairs, which they then strategically positioned any which way they wanted, trapping viewers behind them.

But no one really seemed to mind. The play made them laugh, though not as much as it could have.

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