The Hotel ****1/2

The Hotel is a silly site-specific play that has no plot but lots of heart and fun characters.  As it is interactive, the more you put into the experience, the more you’ll get out of it.

A large group are taken from the Assembly Rooms and allowed to roam around The Hotel, so named by its rather pompous owner because, as he states in the brochure/programme, his establishment is so good you won’t want to stay elsewhere.  What follows is a personal 45-minute exploration of the building and what it has to offer.

And what it has to offer are a lot of laughs.  There are multiple rooms, each with a theme, and many staff members, all with different agendas.  With only 45 minutes, it is impossible to see everything, but this is actually a strength as one is almost guaranteed to never get bored.

It all comes to some sort of a conclusion (as I was at the bottom of the stairs, I actually missed the last bit, but I got the gist), but it’s more about the journey than the destination.  How else can you explain the disgruntled massage therapist, the job interview panel from hell, the health gurus out to prove that everyone is ‘Not Well’ and the kitchen staff who have been driven mad.  Oh, and there’s the security branch that give spot inkblot tests and interrogate people in a metal shed, the bonkers websites, the staff members stuffed in a closet with toilet paper…and what was going on in that bedroom at the top?

For me, that’s the best part of The Hotel.  Just thinking about most of these discoveries still brings a smile to my face.  It is all done with such joy and good humour that it’s hard not to get caught up in it all.  And though it may sound confrontational, it is all done with such a blithe spirit that one never feels overtly challenged or put on the spot.  For that, I really have to commend the entire ensemble, all of whom perform brilliantly and manage to constantly stay in character while making sure everyone is included.

The Hotel is a very enjoyable hour-long experience.  It works hard to please and entertain, and it succeeds on almost every level.  Unless the thought of interactive-theatre fills you with dread, it is one to certainly check out (or check-in, if I really wanted to go with a cliché).

Playing through the Assembly Rooms.

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