Jermyn Street Theatre, London – until 25 June 2016
Neil Koenigsberg’s play looks at the many different ways people cope with grief, brought touchingly to life in Alan Cohen’s production.
This lovely bittersweet comedy drama about grief and how to move on with your life is sensitive and funny in equal measures – even if it does leave you with plenty of questions. Off the Kings Road follows Matt Browne who travels to London following the recent passing of his wife, intending to take in the sights – but his plans are overthrown thanks to a hotel clerk, a widow and an unexpected relationship with a prostitute.
The production works so well thanks to the great chemistry between the cast, with Michael Brandon holding the production together as Matt. There is an intense vulnerability about his performance that endears the audience to the character, while his relationship with Sheena (Diana Dimitrovici) feels a little sleazy at first but soon develops into a more of a father-daughter relationship – showing his desperate need for comfort as he puts his head in her lap.
Meanwhile, Cherie Lunghi as Ellen Mellman brings eccentricity to the role that is wonderfully natural and likeable – even if her relationship with Matt feels as though it could have been developed further. The way in which she is also desperate for comfort following the death of her husband and channels it through her cat – is a mirror to Matt’s situation.
Jeff Bridges makes a wonderful e-appearance as Dr. Kozlowski, an incompetent but well intentioned doctor. Much of the comedy happens when he makes an appearance through Skype – and has a wonderful partnership with Matt which is one of the highlights of the production.
Alan Cohen’s production is slick and straightforward, relying on the set designs by Claire Lyth that adds a hint of sophistication to proceedings. The trouble is that Neil Koenigsberg’s play does leave a lot of unanswered questions such as what happens to Sheena after she leaves the hotel? Does Matt begin to see a way forward for himself for the future? Can he get past his grief?
The overall vibe of the production is it is tender, funny, warm – but just lacking in energy and intent to make it perfect. Definitely worth a visit.
Off the Kings Road appears at the Jermyn Street Theatre until the 25th June. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/show/off-the-kings-road/.