Saturday, 4 June 2016

Review: Off The Kings Road, Jermyn Street

"I am so lonely..."

Academy Award-nominated stars are appearing in the unlikeliest of places off-West End at the moment, but the key is to work out the connection. Fatal Attraction's Anne Archer will soon be appearing at the Park in The Trial of Jane Fonda, which just happens to be written by her husband, and Jeff Bridges is now to be found at the Jermyn Street Theatre in Off The Kings Road, as a favour to his friend Neil Koenigsberg, a Hollywood publicist, manager, producer and first-time playwright.

To be clear, it's an "e-appearance" from Bridges, via the medium of pre-recorded Skype interactions but the point still holds, it's all about the connections. And you might wonder if those connections helped this production into theatres, for it isn't necessarily the strongest piece of writing from Koenigsberg. Even with a company of just five, Off The Kings Road is too filled with uninspired stock characters whose hackneyed dialogue give them little chance to escape stereotype.

Fortunately, Alan Cohen's astutely-cast production elevates the material, to make a watchable if undemanding piece of theatre. It centres on recently-widowed Matt Browne, a US businessman who has come to London for a week to recapture happy memories of time spent there, only to find his holiday waylaid by the shenanigans going on in and around the small hotel in which he's staying. And through these gentle dramas from equally damaged souls, Matt starts to work through his grief 

Michael Brandon is vulnerably charismatic as Matt, slowly coming to terms with what his life is and how it has changed and as the agents of new change, Cherie Lunghi, Diana Dimitrovici and Luke Pitman make an intriguing trio. It's just that as a cat-loving widow, prostitute with a heart of gold and camp hotel clerk respectively, you crave something more innovative for their talents. Bridges' digital interventions as his doctor are amusing but not quite well-integrated enough to make the conceit truly work, symptomatic of a play that's not bold enough, despite great work from Brandon. 

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Photos: Pamela Raith
Booking until 25th June


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