The Other Josh Cohen at Soho Playhouse could be described as a seriocomic thirty-something tale of romantic woe. Yet, thanks to the cleverness of co-authors David Rossmer and Steve Rosen and the ingeniousness of director Ted Sperling, this small-scale musical elicits rueful gales of laughter practically from word one.
Almost immediately, a beaming Rossmer bounds down the aisle and onto the stage – a white-washed room bare but for a smattering of musicians. Soon, he's off and running, energetically framing (in first person) the story of one horrible day shortly before his Josh's annual holiday nadir: Valentine's Day.
At that juncture, Rosen ambles on to play Josh, after which the two actors -- dressed alike in grunge flannel shirts -- essentially role-share, affording plenty of opportunity for one-year-older-thus-wiser admonitions and self-ribbing badinage.
Past-Josh is leading a loser's life, striking out in romantic forays dating back to third grade (Hannah Elless and Kate Wetherhead play the various scornful objects of his affection). He's now financially wiped out as well in the wake of an apartment robbery leaving him in possession of a single CD, Neil Diamond: III.
So neighboring lesbians (Elless and Wetherhead again) offer Josh a Darth Vader collectible phone to help get him back on his feet. But it's the arrival of a mysterious letter containing a check in his name for $56,000 that promises a spectacular rebound -- if Josh overcomes his moral qualms and cashes it, knowing full well it's probably not meant for him.
Faust himself never faced so fraught a dilemma. But rest assured, it will all work out after fact-finding forays up the far-reaching family tree (sporting a shtreimel and side curls, Weatherhead plays "immigrant horndog" Samuel Cohen) and a bit of telephonic research via that raspy bit of Star Wars memorabilia.
The Other Josh Cohen is the romcom form perfected, surely fated to fuel many a successful date night. Better yet, if you're companion-challenged at this phase in your life, Josh's story – said to be based on real life -- could just restore your faith in happy outcomes.