Hotel Nowhere ***

theSpace on the Mile @ Jury’s Inn, 6 – 14 August 2010

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

Hotel Nowhere is set in a hotel bedroom and staged at Jury’s Inn, a hotel full of perfectly serviceable hotel bedrooms; yet it’s performed in a makeshift studio theatre, decked out with black cloth and a hotel bedroom stage set. Perhaps the hotel couldn’t spare a room during festival season, but in that case why bother staging the play in a hotel at all?

This doesn’t detract from the production so much as deny it a potentially resonant extra dimension. The generic anonymity of hotel rooms, and the sense of dislocation they generate, is the play’s dominant theme, and the production would be strengthened if the audience could experience that first-hand. Instead, we experience the equally generic anonymity of black box theatre spaces in what claims to be a site-specific production.

It’s to the play’s credit that it remains intriguingly watchable despite being denied its full potential. Two parties of hotel guests find that the bland surroundings draw out their secrets and desires almost by osmosis. Action occurring in two different (but identical, anonymous, generic) rooms simultaneously on the same set, a dramatic device borrowed from Andrew Bovell’s Speaking In Tongues, demands the audience’s full attention and ensures a quickfire pace throughout. Bovell’s play does it better, highlighting the generic nature not just of the environment but also of the kinds of conversations that take place there; but Hotel Nowhere’s dialogue is still witty and acutely observed, especially when flirtation is involved.

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