.. rule of thumb …

The Oldsmobiles is a conversation between a couple in their 60’s perched on the Manhattan Bridge and getting ready to commit suicide by jumping into the East River.

The title, well, Oldsmobiles were upper middle end cars now obsolete and the inference is so are these Oldsmobiles.

Only — just one of the play’s many inconsistencies — they really aren’t.  They’re still very fit as we’re told several times, lead varied, interesting lives and have enough money to carry on quite well.

He’s more gung-ho to commit suicide than she is but she’ll go along.  Why is simply never clear.  The whole situation is unthought, the characterizations inconsistent, the set-up no more than a platform for some banal jokes:  if they draw a laugh at all it’s because of some recognizable reference to “contemporary life”.  The couple’s children don’t have much interest in their parents — they show up when the media have caught on to the news story about a couple evading rescue about to jump into the river but they don’t stick around.  This is funny?  Periodically one Oldsmobile says to the other, “You’re stupid,” or asks “Is this profound,” to which the other answers “no.”

Oh shoot!  The Flea has done such wonderful shows, why’d they have to come up with this one?

One of the dullest plays I’ve ever seen was by the brilliant cartoonist Jules Feiffer at Circle Repertory Theater:  before the lights came up, my friend and I asked each other, “Why would Feiffer produce his play in this small off-Broadway theater when with his name you’d think he could take it anywhere?”  We found out.

Roger Rosenblatt has written some plays, I learned from the program, but he’s known for other writing and as a public television personality.

Rule of thumb: if a person with a “name” for something other than plays produces one in a small off-Broadway theater, approach with caution.

The Oldsmobiles plays at Flea Theater in NYC’s Tribeca through November.

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