In Neil Koenigsberg’s bittersweet comedy drama, Michael Brandon stars as Matt, an American who is in London for some private time and as part of the process of coming to terms with the recent death of his wife.
But checking into a small hotel where he hopes to be as anonymous as possible, while also immersing himself in London’s culture proves futile as events unfold around him — in particular the attentions of nosey hotel resident and cat lover Ellen Mellmen, played by Cherie Lunghi in a delightful little cameo, and his encounter with a Russian prostitute and her jealous boyfriend.
This is an intelligent little gem of a play that takes an often poignant look at loneliness without ever being histrionic, and it’s often very funny. The unique thing about this production is the role of Hollywood star Jeff Bridges in what is being described as an “e appearance”. He plays Matt’s psychiatrist Dr Kozlowski and with the doctor being back in LA, the pair only ever communicate via Skype. While this might sound a bit gimmicky it really isn’t at all. The scenes between the pair work superbly well. They are seamlessly blended into the action and with Brandon’s impeccable timing and interaction with the video footage they provide plenty of laugh-out loud moments. I can see that this might be the future and producers will be enlisting the talents of Hollywood A-listers for video appearances more often. The Olivier award for best videoed performance anyone?
The staging sometimes feels a little awkward for the small space of the Jermyn Street Theatre and some of the characters here feel a bit stereotypical: the overly camp hotel concierge and the tart with a heart, but they are both nicely played by Luke Pitman and Diana Dimitrovici respectively. It’s Michael Brandon’s show though and he is terrific as this world-weary man whose life has been turned upside down by the loss of his one true love.
Reviewed by Tony Peters
Photo: Pamela Raith
Off The Kings Road plays at Jermyn Street Theatre until 25 June 2016