May 18, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Neil Koenigsberg’s “Off The King’s Road” West Coast Premiere At Odyssey Theatre:

To do a riff on a recent credit card commercial that ends with the spokesperson saying: “What’s in your wallet?” – that tag line could be rewritten to “What’s in your suitcase?”

What’s in the character of Matt Browne’s (Tom Bower) suitcase is not the usual requisite travel items as he’s packed some bizarre things, including a blow-up doll named Jenna purchased from Larry Flint’s store, mouthwash, condoms, and a framed photo of his deceased wife Betty to whom he was married for 38 years. To complete the contents of his suitcase are the two “Vs,” Viagra and Valium.

Still grieving over the loss of his wife, under the advice of his therapist, Dr. Yablonsky, well played by Thaddeus Shafer, a shrink with his own marital problems, Browne decides to take a trip to London to try to pull himself out of his depressed state. He chooses a small boutique hotel called Off The King’s Road, yes, the same title as the play, which is a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre.

The suffering shrink advises him to put a blackboard in his hotel room and make a list of possible cultural things to do – art, music, stage, museums, etc. Not on the list was visiting a Serbian hooker from Zagreb by the name of Sheena, played by Maria Zyrianova. Her business plan is pay now, play later. Sheena, who might be a hooker with a heart, has an unseen violent boyfriend who is not overly happy with her line of work. During Browne’s first visit to her cramped den of inequity, the only sexual favor he wants is to lay his head on her lap. During another visit, he tries to engage her in a conversation about Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries’, and, of course, she has no idea what he’s talking about other than she loves Rambo.

Completing the cast of characters is Freddie, the obsequious manager of the hotel played to the max by Michael Uribes, and Ellen Mellman, a slightly daffy, dowdy, English woman totally devoted to her (unseen) Himalayan cat. Casey Kramer’s Mellman gets below the surface of her character revealing some interesting layers.

With regard to the direction, I have great respect for Amy Madigan’s work as an award-winning actress and really wanted to like her directorial work in this play. However, her direction is fraught with problems, beginning with a poor, fractured script and the awkward staging of what can easily be referred to, as a series of short, not necessarily connected, scenes. There were interminable, overly long blackouts so that if there was any possibility of a through-line to the action, that was continuously stomped on. The stage “business”* was excessive and sometimes the action stopped while the business was executed, versus execution in conjunction with the dialogue.

Given that this is not a well-written play, the truth is if the lead role of Matt Browne was played by let’s say Madigan’s brilliant actor husband, Ed Harris, the experience might actually have been enjoyable. But Browne’s performance didn’t get much past line readings, dropping his voice at the end of each sentence. Despite his long list of theatrical credits, he did not have the stage presence to carry the lead in what is a problematic piece of material. Adding to the failure of this production was the cramped set design by Joel Daavid of both the hotel room and Sheena’s apartment, and a clawing, disparate sound design by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski. I have seen their creative work before and it’s usually top-notch, but this time the results were not up to their usual level of excellence.

There’s that old show biz axiom that says, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage,” and Off The King’s Road could be the poster child for that theatrical truism.

*Stage business refers to the gestures and activities an actor executes as part of a scene.

Odyssey Theatre

2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

Run: Fridays & Saturdays – 8 pm; Sundays – 2 pm

Closing: Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015

Tickets: $25-$30

Reservations: 323.960.7712 or www.plays411.com/kingsroad

Related Posts

Film Review: The Northman

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

FILM REVIEWTHE NORTHMANRated R137 MinutesReleased April 22nd If the Vikings of 800-1000 AD had the technology, The Northman is the...

Murray Mednick’s “Three Tables”- Existentialism Meets Theatre of the Absurd

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

Murray Mednick’s THREE TABLES is the newest work from the famous poet/playwright who spearheaded New York’s off-off-Broadway movement in the...

Film Review: “The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent”

April 27, 2022

April 27, 2022

FILM REVIEWTHE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENTRated R107 MinutesReleased April 22nd Watching The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, I got...

Santa Monica Auctions Showcasing World Class Fine Art at Bergamot Station Auction event.

April 22, 2022

April 22, 2022

Santa Monica Auctions is hosting its bi-annual live outdoor art auction on May 15th at Bergamot Station Arts Center. See...

Help Recruiting for Good Give Back and Join the Fun at the Sweetest Earth Day Parties Ever

April 20, 2022

April 20, 2022

By Susan Payne  Earth Day is around the corner.  For Carlos Cymerman, founder of Recruiting for Good, that means the...

Santa Monica Bead & Design Show Returns to the Fairmont Miramar!

April 13, 2022

April 13, 2022

The Santa Monica Bead & Design Show will showcase a fine selection of handcraft and artisan supplies at the Fairmont...

Santa Monica to Host Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk & Auction Gallery

April 1, 2022

April 1, 2022

43rd annual Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction re-emerges with an art gallery and NFT auction April 15 –...

Honoring Women’s History Month With ‘Yarn Bomb’ Art Exhibit at Village Green

March 23, 2022

March 23, 2022

Local Palisadian Michelle Villemaire creates the sixth annual ‘Yarn Bomb’ exhibit at Village Green Park. See the exhibit in this...

Local Artists Honored at Legendary Women of Venice Awards

March 22, 2022

March 22, 2022

Venice Art Crawl hosts the 3rd annual Legendary Women of Venice Awards, find out who was honored in this video...

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Stairway of the Stars Returns for in-Person Concert

March 16, 2022

March 16, 2022

March 19 concert will feature nearly 900 elementary, middle, and high school students By Sam Catanzaro For the first time...

Young Musicians Take the Stage at John Adams Middle School for the First Time Since March 2020

March 2, 2022

March 2, 2022

Over 150 students in grades 3–8 will be performing across six different large ensembles Nearly two years after the pandemic...

Interview With Aero Theatre’s Gwen Deglise

February 22, 2022

February 22, 2022

American Cinematheque’s Gwen Deglise talks about what the theatre has to offer community By Dolores Quintana The Aero Theatre at...