Skip to main content

The Hothouse by Harold Pinter at the Trafalgar Studios, London

This weekend saw my very first experience of a Harold Pinter play, the world famous playwright who I literally knew nothing about. I presumed some highbrow theatery stuff, all stuffy and indigestable. I know not why, I just for some reason assumed too much. Famous theatre playwright I thought, not going to be entertaining stuff for a commoner like me. It'll be like wading through treacle!

How wrong I was! Funny, sharp, cool, black (very black) and just so much fun! A literally endless cascade of glorious dialogue creating a somewhat open play which could be interpreted in many ways. To find yourself laughing so much at a play which contains torture, death, rape and murder seems strange and when leaving the theatre I heard many discussions about the contents, many not getting it, many not liking it. It could certainly be a play best not viewed if you do not get very black humour, fortunately I have no problem at all with this type of material, and got it very much.

The cast were superb throughout. Leads Simon Russell Beale and John Simm bouncing off one another wonderfully. The quiet, but yes, sinister Gibbs (Simm) being the perfect foil for "Colonel" Roote (Beale) as the over the top, blustering buffoon who knows none of his patients and lacks understanding of the left from the right. Both leads are excellent in their respective roles, but I did fear for Mr Beale's back as he lay bent over his chair in one of the clever freeze frame moments.

John Heffernan playing the roguish Lush was highly watch-able whether if be for his snow observations or magical cake moments (you OK in the front row now?). While Harry Melling as the (very) unfortunate Lamb gave a glorious physical performance in his role as the socially afflicted and obvious target of Gibbs. The third of the main supporting roles was Indira Varma as Miss Cutts, who crawled and sexually taunted the men throughout the play. And yes Miss Cutts, I do find that you are feminine enough!

The two tiny roles of Tubb and Lobb played by Clive Rowe and Christopher Timothy (thankfully without a cows bottom in sight) were well played in their all too brief appearances.

The set design, much like the last few plays I have seen was once again exemplary, clean efficient and not too cluttered, with the added fact that the front few rows are effectively on the stage, the whole thing was a glorious viewing.

So to my first Harold Pinter? Wonderful, enlightening, not what could ever have been expected. All in all a glorious two hours of entertainment. Just as long as you like your humour dark, very dark.


The Hothouse runs at Studio One at the Trafalgar Studios, London until Saturday 3rd August.

The Hothouse, Trafalgar Studios

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Touching The Void at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For those unfamiliar with this story, this review tells more than you might want to know ahead of seeing it. So, the short review for those who don't know the story of Joe Simpson, go and see this play and then come and read this review if you wish.

Staging the 1985 tale of Joe Simpson and his somewhat unbelievable, if it wasn't true, escape from surviving three days without food and water, a 150 foot fall previous, and following breaking his leg a previous, previous, seems an insurmountable challenge, but with the clever work of writer David Greig, director Tom Morris, and designer Ti Green and the rest of the creative team, we manage during a long and pulsating evening of theatre to reach that peak.

Following a short sequence of flashes of what is to come, we join Simon (Edward Hayter), Richard (Patrick McNamee) and Sarah (Fiona Hampton) at the wake of Joe Simpson, imagined for the stage and a neat way of introducing us to the story. Here Sarah, Joe's sister becomes the …

Review of the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Graduate Showcase at Leicester Square Theatre, London

The Graduate Showcase was pretty exciting even for me, so heaven knows how it was for the actors actually taking part. Here I was in a gathering of around twenty people (all others infinitely more important than me) at a special closed event at a West End theatre, complete with free drinks and buffet. Fortunately I had Mr Jim aka @mudbeast76 to keep me on the straight and narrow of juices after the one alcoholic one went straight to the head drink. Then as if it wasn't a surreal world as it was, there only goes and walks in Lukewarm himself, Christopher Biggins!

However, this isn't about me, this is about the thirty six ultra talented individuals who after I have followed them for a bit over a year are about to venture forth into the big competitive world of the acting community. They have though the double advantage of not only coming through the excellent three years University Of Northampton training and also being rather talented to help them in this.

This being my first s…

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…