“Otherwise Engaged,” Written by Simon Gray and Directed by Linda Alznauer.
Set in a lavish and fashionable living room in 1970s London, “Otherwise Engaged” is a witty dramedy of Simon, a successful publisher who has emotionally detached himself from most of the people in his life.
Simon Gray has written a funny yet poignant play that has received numerous awards and had successful runs in both England and on Broadway. We now have the opportunity of seeing this funny and appealing play at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in the NoHo Arts District.
Michael Robb is perfect as the indifferent Simon, who is repeatedly interrupted by the upstairs tenant Dave (Joseph Marcelo), his brother Stephen (Fox Carney), his school friend Jeff (Doug Haverty), Jeff’s girlfriend Davina (Kait Haire), stranger Wood (Lee Grober), and finally his wife Beth (Beccy Quinn). Each arrival has issues that they bring to Simon to solve, with Simon’s indifference exasperating all of them. As Simon says, “things are happy enough, why muck it up?” But you can see how Simon would avoid any involvement or reaction. Wouldn’t you? But the witty, fast-paced repartee by the writer with the British class system front and center, the engaging direction by Linda Alznauer, and excellent performances by the cast, entices and draws us into each of the characters.
Simon’s brother Stephen is worried about a position of assistant headmaster that he applied for at a boy’s school. The upstairs tenant, Dave, is trying to impress a girl and asks Simon to borrow money, wine and just about anything Dave can get out of Simon. Jeff is an old school friend, journalist and a swine to women who divorced his wife Gwendolyn and now regrets it. He gets drunk on Simon’s liquor, then his girlfriend Davina turns up and fabricates a story that Jeff’s ex-wife has committed suicide. Davina tries to seduce Simon but with no success. Next to turn up is Wood, who really isn’t Wood, but a nerd who actually went to school with Simon, and is the wannabe boyfriend of a young writer that came to interview with Simon earlier that day. And finally, we have Simon’s wife Beth, who arrives with upsetting news of her own. Whew!!! Simon has really had a terrible night, hasn’t he??? And all he wanted was to listen to Wagner recordings on his stereo.
Once again, great set design by the Chris Winfield, and great lighting, sound, costumes, and stage managing are what we come to expect, with a special mention to the dialect coach, Michele Schultz.
I will leave the rest of the story for you to enjoy for yourself. And there is lots to enjoy. As I’ve said in previous reviews, the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre is having a great season.
“Otherwise Engaged” is yet another play not to be missed.
Cast: Fox Carney, Lee Grober, Kait Haire, Doug Haverty, Joseph Marcelo, Beccy Quinn, and Michael Robb.
Director: Linda Alznauer
Set Design: Chris Winfield
Lighting Design: Kenny Harder
Sound Design: Steve Shaw
Costume Design: Victor D’wayne Little
Stage Manager: John Ledley
Dialect Coach: Michele Schultz
Publicity: Nora Feldman
Graphics: Doug Haverty
Videography/Photography: Doug Engalla
Upstairs at the Group Rep
Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets and Information:
or (818) 763-5990
Seniors & Students with ID
Show Times and Tickets:
August 10 – September 8, 2019
Saturdays 4:00 pm; Sundays at 7:00 pm
Talkback Saturdays 8/17 & 8/24 after 4 pm show
The upstairs venue is not handicapped accessible.