The Blue Room, a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre, is a pretty perfect play, if you can handle its graphic nature. The acting is superb, featuring a two-member cast who play multiple characters. The production values are excellent, including the simple but creative set design by Adam Fleming, which fills the small space with minimal, but effective set pieces. The abstract light design by Leigh Allen, which complements the ebb and flow of each of the scenes, is mesmerizing. And the original music by Arthur Loves Plastic, which serves to bridge the numerous set changes, is compelling.
Adapted by renowned playwright David Hare from Reigen, a banned play written in the early 1900s by Viennese writer Arthur Schnitzler, subsequently branded a pornographer, the story is told in ten connecting scenes by two very talented actors, Christian S. Anderson as “The Man” and Christina Dow as “The Woman.” The story depicts ten distinctly different couples drawn from a cross section of socio-economic levels whose ultimate goal is to have sex and the potential consequences of their actions, as well as their disappointments and unmet expectations.
The opening scene, between a cab driver and a prostitute, takes place on a riverfront, where the water is splashing against the dock and a bridge looms in the background. It appears that she just wants to have sex and he gladly obliges her. (Note: Although the action is set in the evening, the stage could use a bit more lighting, as it was hard to see the actors.) As with each subsequent episode, the scene ends with a sexual encounter, with the endurance length of time flashed on a TV screen, and ranges anywhere from zero to three minutes to several hours, (longest sexual act is portrayed to last two hours and 28 minutes).
Under the very skilled direction of Elina de Santos, the scenes are well paced and each of the characters developed by these versatile actors is unique, with a distinctly different physical and vocal presence. The sexual encounters are between couples that include a married woman and her lover, an au pair and a young gentleman employer, a sexy, but not too bright 17-year-old druggie, and an older man, an actress and a playwright/poet, an actress and a British gentleman who visits her backstage, and finally the play goes full circle, ending with the opening couple back on the waterfront.
Although The Blue Room is definitely an X-rated production for adults, as some of the scenes are done sans clothing and graphically simulate various sexual positions, it is extremely well done and never borders on obscene. The costume design by Dennis Ballard is quite utilitarian and serves the actress well, facilitating the constant removal of her clothing gracefully in full view of2055 Sepulveda Blvd., LA, CA 90025
Performances Thursday-Sunday, Closing: May 2, 2010