Off the King’s Road and the Jermyn Street Theatre are like the perfect power couple – both charming and quaint, grounded in a nostalgic London context ready to tell a simple, interesting and happy story. Neil Koenigsberg’s text is, at its core, a relatable piece – one of lost loves and the desire for comfort at a time of great insecurity.
Michael Brandon is Matt Browne, a man running from the trauma of his mother’s death, seeking solitude and comfort in the tourist capital of the UK – Europe. From there he meets a cavalcade of eccentric characters, checking in with his psychiatrist on Skype every few scenes to make sure he’s on the right track. It’s not a piece to challenge boundaries, nor does it attempt to be – but one that lets its actors tell a heartfelt tale with energy and vibrancy.
Claire Lyth’s quaint, London hotel design is far more flexible than expected, and Alex Marshall alleviates the small stage size with some innovative lighting that keeps Matt Browne on his toes as he trundles from room to room. The video from Matt Brown is an unusual addition to proceedings, but gives Brandon the chance to interact with a computer screen recording featuring some luscious tones from the Dude himself in the form of Jeff Bridges – it’s worth a watch just to see if the same feat of timing is pulled off with the same consistency every night.
On the acting front, it’s a fairly straightforward run for the performers – Luke Pitman as the hotel clerk is a wonderful little turn that, whilst eccentric, never felt overtly caricatured or overwhelming. Cherie Lunghi is a superb addition to proceedings, providing Brandon with a perfect foil and providing the play with a beautiful closing beat to bring proceedings to a close.
Off the King’s Road is a wholesome, heartfelt story, and whilst slightly pedestrian at times, is a nice quiet evening at the theatre for those looking to revel in a more intimate West End experience.