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Arts and Entertainment

Theater Review: The Blue Room at the Odyssey

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Christian S. Anderson and Christina Dow star in The Blue Room through May 2. | Photo: Christopher Moscatiello

Christian S. Anderson and Christina Dow star in The Blue Room through May 2. | Photo: Christopher Moscatiello
David Hare’s The Blue Room is a play about sex. And the longing that sometimes comes with it. It’s loosely based on Austrian writer Arthur Shnitzler’s late 1800s/early 20th century play La Ronde, a critical expose of his generation’s sexual mores.

In La Ronde, and The Blue Room, the 10 scenes focus on a heterosexual couple with each pair containing a partner from a previous scene. So it’s like a daisy chain/telephone game happening on stage with the audience watching various ways that people can screw themselves and each other.

The latest iteration of The Blue Room, under the direction of Elina de Santos as a guest production at The Odyssey Theater in West LA, provides a lot of wham bam thank you ma’am, but not a lot of connection--between characters and with the audience. Has sex become this nonchalant and boring? Or are we not supposed to care for these characters? Half of them don't seem to like their partners to begin with anyway.

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Here’s a few lines of dialogue and stage direction from Hare’s play between a cab driver and the new-ish street walker (the first couple):

Girl. Now give me a kiss. (She kisses him. It’s magical, suspended for a moment. They stay in each others’ arms. It is dark in the street and deserted.) The kiss is the best bit. I like the kiss best. Cab driver. It’s still too far.

Where was the magical moment? The titillation? The anticipation? There was only detachment between actors Christian S. Anderson and Christina Dow, even during the most passionate scenes, which we can only hope was an intentional commentary on today’s relationships.

We do have to give props, though to the great great lighting by Leigh Allen and original music by Arthur Loves Plastic. And the video screens that flashed fornication times added a welcomed, light touch to the production. Combining those elements with the minimal set many times reminded us of a W Hotel lobby somewhere--where couplings like the ones in The Blue Room happen all the time.

The Blue Room
Odyssey Theatre
2055 Sepulveda Blvd., LA
Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm
Tickets $30
Through May 2