Oscar Madison, a carefree, good-natured, divorced sportswriter who lives alone in a messy eight-room New York apartment. He is completely oblivious to dirt, clutter, and the overdue child-support payments about which his wife telephones weekly. He has his male cronies in for a weekly poker game with refreshments that invite food poisoning. Oscar’s lifestyle is abruptly turned around when he takes in one of the members of the group, Felix Ungar, whose wife has thrown him out. Everything is now antiseptically clean, the food served to the poker players is appetizing, and there is money to pay his former wife, Blanche. Felix is so compulsive, however, that Oscar cannot live with him and forcefully requests that he leave.
Felix Ungar, a fussy man who knows that he is difficult to live with but cannot—or will not—make any concessions or compromises. His wife, unwilling to continue their marriage, asks him to leave the family despite his suicide threat, and he then moves in with Oscar. Made comical by his exaggerated behavior, Felix is persuaded by the end of the play to live temporarily with the Pigeon sisters, who pity him, but it is probable that they too will find him exasperating.
Gwendolyn Pigeon and
Cecily Pigeon, English sisters who live in the apartment building. Attractive, intellectually...
(The entire section is 446 words.)