THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT - Pacific Resident Theatre Company

Reviewed by Michael Edwards

[pictured from L-R: Bruce Nozick, Tobias Echeverria, Robert Lesser]

Pacific Resident Theatre's production of Academy Award Winning Wolf Mankowitz' play THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT (also an Academy Award Winning Short) is truly a successful experiment, testing the timelessness of striking work from a different era (early 1950's), and different nation (UK), all to learn whether or not Mankowitz' powerful message still resonates enough in today's mixed up world. Though the rhythm and verbage are from a different time, this reminder of our humanity is not. This is a powerful statement to our current times and credit must be paid to Pacific Resident Theatre for their courage in staging such a relevant message of righteousness.  

Directed with a magical mix of reverence and cutting edge stoicism by Marylin Fox and Dana Jackson, The Bespoke Overcoat's scenario is simple enough. An aged tailor (HARRY HERMAN) is failing at his job in a coat shop. His boss (BRUCE NOZICK) can literally be seen counting the moments until he can fire the failing old man who has outlived his value to the company. Aside from keeping his job, the tailor's only focus appears to be on acquiring a new coat so he can be warm in the frigid workplace. He commissions a good friend and fellow tailor (ROBERT LESSER) to make him an overcoat to keep him warm  and promises him 10 pounds payment for his service. Measurements are taken and the aged tailor appears joyful in his expectation and value of the coming overcoat. So joyful he advances his friend 2 pounds so he can enjoy his life while working on the coat. All is well.

Then, the inevitable occurs and the aged tailor is fired. He cannot pay the remainder of the agreed upon fee. His friend says he will finish the coat regardless and also help him steal a coat from his former place of employment because he is 'owed' said coat. A hidden story point that I'll leave for you to view is at some point the aged tailor dies and is then represented as a ghost with the same agenda and motivation so it is as though he did not die at all. That is until he attains the coat and can move on to the next world in peace. 

I can think of five things this story is a metaphor for, but at the end of the day it is a beautiful human sharing of kindness and fairness in our world that, as portrayed, should never be forgotten or left behind.

The stagecraft from top to bottom is stunning. ' Lighting design and stage design are a wonder to behold. One feels we've stepped into a different time or different frequency of detail and classic somberness. The direction is clean and straightforward. Down the middle between over the top artistic license and focused realism. The actors work as a flawless unit. Robert Lesser (Morry) is grounded and immersed in his character's clarity. He is a joy to watch. Bruce Nozick (Ranting) keeps his character's darkness in such realistic reserve, we believe in another life we could be as cold as he demonstrates his cruel boss character to be. Tobias Echeverria (Clerk) commits to his small role with such quiet discipline he forces one to ask questions about the inner life of this deceptively small character. Harry Herman (Fender)'s heart is immediately on display from start to finish. He is a kind human being. He is a joy seeking human being. He is a relatable human being and we follow the story as keenly as we do in no small part because of the masterful simplicity he exudes.  

A brave and timely production.

The Bespoke Overcoat runs Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sun at 3. Pacific Resident Theatre Company is located at 703 Venice Blvd. (between Lincoln and Albert Kinney)

Tickets/Reservations: (310)822-8392

Posted By DH Magazine on March 15, 2024 05:34 pm | Permalink