‘Middle-aged man in crisis deals with his issues in an anonymous hotel room’ is becoming an overcrowded genre. The film Lost in Translation (whose movie poster this production deliberately echoes, though with what purpose is unclear), and much more recently the brilliant Anomalisa were of this sort, and it naturally lends itself to small scale stage production.
This is a perfectly capably performed production – hardly surprising with such luminaries as Cherie Lunghi and Michael Brandon on stage, and I very much wanted to like it. Matt Browne (Brandon) has come to stay in a boutique hotel in Chelsea, attended to by the simpering, oddly sinister Freddie (the excellent Luke Pitman) to deal with the continuing aftershocks of losing his wife to cancer, and his role in that loss. He repeatedly makes contact by Skype with his analyst back home in the US, (a heavily bearded Jeff Bridges) to discuss his progress.
Sadly for middle aged men who long to avoid stereotypes, he seeks to overcome his loneliness by seeking sex – first with a blow-up doll (not very funny in the first place, and very rapidly palling as a gag) and secondly with Sheena, a very beautiful Russian prostitute (the very beautiful and similarly excellent Diana Dimitrovici) while failing to notice that a more plausible cure is present just a few doors away in the form of the cat-loving Ellen Mellman (Lunghi).
Sadly (again) this fairly predictably plot arc proceeds glacially slowly with not very much to distract or entertain along the way – though the exchanges with Bridges had their moments – and very little in the way of plot convolution or enlightenment to enhance the experience.
Those seeking undemanding drama performed by two very celebrated performers may well find much to enjoy here. However, I can’t help thinking that bringing a play about an American staying in London might have contained more exotic interest in the US (where it has had two showcase productions). Bringing it to potential audiences who may be staying in exactly such a hotel brought to mind Blackadder’s observation that Dr Johnson’s dictionary was ‘the stupidest book since “How to learn French” was translated into French’.