Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews

The Oldsmobiles – Off Broadway Theater Review




picture - The OldsmobilesTheater Review

by Andrew Turner

published November 1, 2009


The Oldsmobiles

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 easily.  


andrewturner @


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