The Oldsmobiles – Off Broadway Theater Review
OIL AND MAYONNAISE
by Andrew Turner
published November 1, 2009
now playing Off Broadway at the Flea
through November 14th
There’s a moment near the end of The Oldsmobiles, now playing Off
Broadway at the Flea, when husband tells wife that they go together like “oil and mayonnaise.” It’s a bit of a strange line, and there are
definitely much wittier ones in the play. It does, however, accurately sum up the spirit of this production – it’s awkward, and the
different parts don’t quite go together.
An old couple, Mr. and Mrs. Oldsmobile (we never learn their first names), have climbed to the top of the
Manhattan bridge with the intention of jumping off. Why? It’s not because they’re sick and dying. In fact, just the opposite. The couple,
former Olympic athletes, have decided to kill themselves while they’re still in peak physical condition. They don’t want to get old and
decrepit and dependant on others to take care of them; better to go now, while still in command of their own faculties.
It’s a fun premise, but there’s no tension without a real motivation for suicide. Veteran actors Richard Masur and
Alice Playten do their professional best with what they’ve been given, but it amounts to little more than trading barbs like any other
couple that’s been married for decades (and not about to jump off a bridge).
Roger Rosenblatt’s script is also problematic. One moment the characters glibly
utter Noel Coward-like witticisms, another they trip over their own senile tongues. And there is certainly no shortage of malapropisms.
Sometimes they’re funny, but oftentimes (such as the wife referring to Russell Crowe as Russell Clooney), they fall flat.
Despite the fact that most of the humor tends to be geared toward an older audience.
There is a curious lack of direction from Jim Simpson, with virtually no
movement (literally and figuratively). It feels like a John Hughes movie circa 1982 – comical, but thin and a little silly. You start to wish
they would just jump off the damn bridge and put an end to their meaningless lives.
Like an oil and mayonnaise sandwich, it’s not the kind of thing you can digest
andrewturner @ stageandcinema.com