What is there to say about this umpteenth production of King Lear? Well, it’s pretty…
The Defibrillator Theatre company brings a trio of Tennessee Williams’ never before seen plays to the Grange Holborn Hotel in London. This is site-specific performance as it should be; raw, exciting and completely engaging.
The Hotel Plays consists of four performances a night of three plays set in various hotel rooms at the Grange. The audience are gathered in the lobby and escorted up to the first room by Charlie (Royce Pierreson) who addresses us in a bell boy uniform with a charming southern drawl.
The evening starts with a bang with Green Eyes, where a volatile newly-wed couple in New Orleans, are either about to fall apart or are caught up in a violent routine sex game they like to play. There is a constant feeling of suspense in the air and the direction by James Hillier is wonderful. The audience are practically on this couple’s laps in the tiny hotel room and it just adds to the suspense. Great and vigorous performances by both Claire Latham and Matt Milne as two erratic lovers.
On the next floor up is The Travelling Companion a semi autobiographical tale of a hyper active pill-popping writer, played excellently by John Guerrasio and his young handsome travel companion played by Laurence Dobiesz. They are in a sort of negotiation about their relationship to each other. The question is who needs who here and we are left not really knowing the answer. Guerrasio’s energy and verve was infectious. I loved the character he inhabits with his corny Hawaiian shirt and straw fedora hat. Wonderful direction here as well by Anthony Banks.
The audience is soon escorted up to another floor for the final act; Sunburst directed by Robert Hastie where we find Miss Sylvia Sails (Carol Macready) a retired actress who is held hostage by a devilishly handsome Italian bellboy, Giuseppe, played by the outstanding Charlie Hollway. This hotel worker wants nothing more than to get that sunburst diamond off Sails’ chubby finger and finish her off. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances in this one and loved the fervid atmosphere created especially by Hollway. He was excellent in this role and his New York Italian accent was spot on. He gave this good-looking criminal a real creepiness and I totally believed in his capability of taking her out. Macready’s performance as a disabled 70 year-old woman was laudable as well. Her physical pain was completely visible to the audience every time she made a move.
Leaving the final hotel room, I was left wanting to move up to another floor to see more. The idea of setting these three lesser known Tennessee Williams’ plays was certainly not a novel one but all in all was quite ingenious. They seemed to be elevated and made all the better for it. An absolutely terrific evening out in London!
Until Oct 27. Tickets: 020 7478 0100
Grange Holborn Hotel
50 Southampton Row
London WC1B 4BR