Review: Heartbreak Hotel, The Jetty

“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.  Continue reading “Review: Heartbreak Hotel, The Jetty”

Review: Titus Andronicus, Baron’s Court Theatre

“I say, my lord, that if I were a man, their mother’s bedchamber should not be safe”

It may feel like I’ve been to all the theatres in London but there are so many fringe venues spread across the city that there are some that have yet to be blessed by my presence, the Baron’s Court Theatre in the basement of the Curtains Up pub being one of them. And when they announced an all-female production of Titus Andronicus, a Shakespeare play I have yet to see in order to complete the set, by Inside of Out, it seemed the time was ripe to kill two birds with the one stone.

Titus Andronicus has oft been described as one of Shakespeare’s goriest plays and quite frankly the numbers (according to Wikipedia at least) don’t lie: 14 killings (though just the 9 onstage), 6 severed members, between 1 and 3 rapes, 1 live burial and some cannibalism thrown in for good measure. But beyond the barbarity, there is a powerful story too of the corrosive impact of violence on society, of the devastating effect of two opposing sides unwilling to back down and what that does to the individual, the family and even the government. Shakespeare’s Titus is a Roman general who has returned victorious from 10 years of conflict with the Goths with their queen Tamora a prisoner, but a ritual sacrifice avenging the death of his sons sparks off a terrible cycle of revenge with Tamora whose unexpected new position as Empress ensures this is a power game with the highest of stakes, leaving no-one untouched. Continue reading “Review: Titus Andronicus, Baron’s Court Theatre”