“Please do not disturb”
I’ve been to a couple of plays in hotels already this year but I haven’t gotten to go through the wardrobe in any of them until Heartbreak Hotel, the latest attempt to develop an immersive theatricality in Greenwich which has ranged from the sublime Hotel Medea to the shocking Venice Preserv’d. Par for the course, The Jetty comes equipped with all the accoutrements to make it a destination venue – rooftop bar, pulled pork stands, riverside views and pumping music, but tasty as the barbeque is (I recommend the squid) it’s the theatre we’re concerned with.
Zoe Wellman and Sam Curtis-Lindsay’s production follows the conceit of multiple stories happening in multiple hotel rooms at the same time, all connected loosely by a similar theme. The audience gets split into groups and traces a path through the hotel which takes us from sado-masochistic relationships, fanboys, self-help sessions… Over the course of an hour, we take on all different kinds of heartbreak as we traverse the corridors and secret passages of this once-grand British seaside establishment with an increasing sense of weirdness taking over the over-arching narrative.
The vignettes are well-constructed and well acted, Tom Radford and Rebecca Oldfield standing out along with Lucy Benson-Brown, and Carla Goodman’s set is impressively realised. The only real issue comes with the thinness of the walls and the sounds that bleed through, proving to be too much of a distraction in the intimate spaces in which these mini-dramas unfold. And though the cumulative effect is enjoyable overall, it lacks a real sense of gravitas that would elevate it to the essential. Still, there’s entertainment aplenty to be had as part of the whole experience down by The Jetty.