Critical Context

(Comprehensive Guide to Drama)

The Odd Couple is one of many plays in which Neil Simon explores human relationships on the family level as well as the wider social level by pairing opposites and placing them in situations that force them to deal with each other intimately. Other notable examples of the technique include Come Blow Your Horn (pr. 1960), which shows two brothers in conflict with each other and with parental authority. Barefoot in the Park (pr. 1963) pairs Corie and Paul Bratter, a young honeymooning couple of conflicting personalities attempting to begin a life together in their first apartment. In The Star-Spangled Girl (pr. 1966), Simon mixes two politically radical young writers, Andy Hobart and Norman Cornell, with the ultraconservative Olympic swimmer Sophie Rauschmeyer. All three must deal with conflicting emotional and physical attractions, as well as conflicting political and social commitments. Chapter Two (pr. 1977) unites George and Jennie in a second marriage. Jennie wants to get on with her life after her disastrous first marriage, but George is reluctant, filled with guilt over having found happiness so soon after his first wife’s death. I Ought to Be in Pictures (pr. 1980) revolves around the conflicts of an insecure writer and his aggressive young daughter, who has come unexpectedly to live with him in Hollywood. In this play, as in the others, both family and romantic relationships are explored through Simon’s comic vision of a life filled with...

(The entire section is 620 words.)