OFF THE KINGS ROAD
by Neil Koenigsberg.
Jermyn Street Theatre to 25 June
16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 90 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7287 2875.
Review: William Russell 4 June 2016
An implausible but well acted bucket list affair
Matt Browne, a marvellously crumpled and seedy Michael Brandon, is a middle aged American widower who has turned up to spend a week in a boutique hotel off the King’s Road. It is a slightly implausible place with only one other resident, a dotty lady who lives permanently with her cat delightfully done by Cherie Lunghi, and a distinctly creepy concierge who seems to do everything from taking messages to delivering breakfast each day nicely done by Luke Pitman.
But whether any hotelier would let a svelte Russian prostitute visit Matt in his room is dubious. It seems to be a respectable establishment, but then, given that missing apostrophe, it seems the writer, Koenigsberg does not know his London all that well. Matt has a bucket list of things to do which he writes up on one of those memo boards and consults, by means of Skype, his shrink back in California played by Jeff Bridges sporting an amazing biblical prophet’s beard.
Matt is patently a troubled man, lonely and keeping something back as he talks to the photograph of his dead wife placed by the bed. He has brought an inflatable sex doll, is obsessed with the films of Ingmar Bergman – implausibly Wild Strawberries is playing somewhere near by – and goes to meet a gorgeous Russian tart played by Diana Dimitrovici who turns out to have a heart and a nasty boyfriend.
The playing is immaculate, Brandon could not be bettered, and Lunghi is especially touching as the cat loving spinster. Just as lonely as Matt and also a Bergman fan she sees in him a fellow lost soul, although she is really much too lovely to be in such a plight. There are some good lines, Bridges clearly has enjoyed playing the shrink and the skill with which Brandon copes with their pre-recorded one sided conversation – it is shown on the room’s television set – is impressive.
The best place for the play, however, neatly directed by Alan Cohen with a stylish set by Claire Lyth, about a sad little man with a bucket list is in the bucket.
Freddie: Luke Pitman.
Matt Browne: Michael Brandon.
Ellen Mellman. Cherie Lunghi.
Dr Kozlowski: Jeff Bridges.
Sheena: Diana Dimitrovici.
Director: Alan Cohen.
Set & Costume Designer: Claire Lyth.
Lighting Designer: Alex Marshall.
Video Designer: Matt Brown.
Sound Designer: Andy Hinton.