A small exclusive hotel ‘Off The Kings Road‘ which prides itself in looking after its guests in a discreet and discerning manner is our scene for this production.
We are greeted by concierge/receptionist Freddie (Luke Pitman) who answering the phone gives us an outline of just that. Pitman plays this role extremely well with a fine balance of all-seeing and all-knowing discernment. He certainly raises more than the odd titter of laughter as his delivery is on point throughout. He even made me think that maybe a “confessions or secrets of a concierge” play could have legs? One of those less obvious key roles superbly delivered by Pitman.
Matt Browne played brilliantly by Michael Brandon is the main character for our play. Recently widowed Brandon has come to London to celebrate his birthday but more importantly it is part of the healing process with the immense grief felt from his loss. We gradually see this manifest itself in various different and very touching ways. The ‘blow-up”‘ doll incident carefully handled between both Brandon and Pitman was both funny whilst being heart wrenching at the same time. The depths of despair and loneliness were felt by the audience particularly in the scene shown in the picture below. The shadows came out of the screen and loomed around the hotel room engulfing the audience and Brandon. Brandon really was truly outstanding in this role especially when the fact that he may have helped his departed wife to have a dignified end his gut wrenching grief palpable.
Cherie Lunghi as widow Ellen Mellman you can see has almost come through her grief and is ready to start to embrace life again the only remnants of this time left to her was her cat Christina.whilst appearing superficial outwardly you can witness that at times her cat was her only reason to keep getting up each morning and carrying on. A fact completely illustrated by Lunghi’s heartfelt performance.
A Russian prostitute Sheena played by Diana Dimitrovici completes the physical cast of this play. She plays the strong Russian, who is also part of the healing process for Brandon, well. We are initially led to think that she is only in it for the money, but the care that she shows by returning Brandon’s Valium gives for a very touching scene.
Now you may have wondered why I said this “completes the physical cast of this play”? Grief ridden Brandon was seeing a psychiatrist and being in London many miles from LA he may have struggled without the aid of Skype where Dr. Kozlowski, played by none other than Jeff Bridges, could be contacted night and day. The conversations held between this pair were at times very funny whilst being touching at the same time as you realise that both have issues. However these interjections often lightened the moment. I particularly loved the moment when Bridges even took his virtual bow at the end.
An intuitive, cleverly written and intelligent piece by Neil Koeningsberg superbly directed by Alan Cohen. This beautiful heartwarming play is a must see this season at its short run at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 25th June. The stellar cast outstandingly led by Michael Brandon completely does justice to this beautiful play.