The Hotel Plays by Tennessee Williams at The Langham, London
I haven’t seen that much site specific theatre as yet, but as soon as I heard about The Hotel Plays I knew I had to go and experience it for myself. Theatre company Defibrillator brings together three short plays by Tennessee Williams (The Pink Bedroom, Green Eyes and Sunburst), each of which is set within a hotel room and stages them within the plush surroundings of The Langham Hotel in London. The audience for each performance is no more than 25-30 people and you are guided around the floors of the hotel by member of staff, entering each room to observe the play before leaving again as if you had never been there in the first place.
Having the plays take place within an actual hotel is incredibly effective, placing the audience at the heart of the emotionally charged scenes that unfold inches from you, giving the evening a voyeuristic air that is made all the more powerful by the stories themselves. This is particularly true of Green Eyes (the second play of the evening), which sees the audience witness the charged atmosphere in the hotel room of a young American couple on their honeymoon, which grows more and more uncomfortable with each passing moment. I would agree with most other reviews that highlight this play as the strongest of the three. The acting by Aisling Lofting and Gethin Anthony (best known to the general public for Mr Selfridge and Game of Thrones respectively) is excellent and I certainly had no idea what was going to happen next.
The acting in the remaining two plays is very strong as well. I was particularly drawn to Helen George (from Call The Midwife) as the mistress confronting her married lover of eight years in The Pink Bedroom. As you make your way from one floor to the next, you can’t help wondering what other stories are happening in the hotel at that moment and the inclusion of Linden Walcott-Burton as the hotel porter, who appears at certain moments in each of the plays, enhances the concept that many such scenes are possibly witnessed by staff in such hotels every day.
Overall I thought this was an innovative, exciting concept for site specific theatre, which is wonderfully staged and extremely well acted. Each of the plays provides a different set of emotions, whether sadness, anger, a threat of violence or even comedy and therefore at the end of the 75 minutes I certainly felt that I had experienced something unique that was incredibly satisfying.
The Hotel Plays continues at the Langham Hotel, London until 15th March, with three timed performance slots each evening (five on Saturdays). At £24 this is definitely a different theatrical experience well worth trying. Tickets can be booked through the link below.