Arriving second in Jamie Lloyd‘s highly anticipated Trafalgar Transformed season at the Trafalgar Studios, The Hothouse doesn’t relax the intensity set by its predecessor, the apocalyptic Macbeth starring James McAvoy. Shocking and at times, offensive,The Hothouse depicts the sinister workings inside an undefined mental institution. Yet despite the outrageously immoral practices and some utterly unforgiving characters, this revival of one of Pinter’s early plays is unrelenting in its comic intentions.
In shedding the pauses and other habits of Pinter plays, Lloyd’s production breathes new life into a script that can often encroach into the realms of the too sinister. Absent of any actual patients, the stage time is entirely dominated by a team of staff who have little interest of those in their care.
Holding the fort of this unpleasant institute is Roote, the self-obsessed ex-colonel who is both grappling to retain control of this establishment and struggling to retain his last vestiages of sanity as his mind is slowly failing him. Fresh from this BAFTA win the night before, Simon Russell Beale is brilliantly funny and an utter joy to watch as he fumbles around oblivious to his manipulation by his colleagues, John Simm’s manic, power hungry Gibbs and the deranged nurse, Miss Cutts played by Indira Varma. These powerhouse performances are perfectly pitched alongside the suspiciously affable Lush (John Heffernan) and Harry Melling’s endearingly naive Lamb. The latter’s performance was often among the hardest to watch as the well-meaning Lamb falls fowl of some Gibb’s more alarming experiments; indeed these moments certainly confirmed Melling’s status as among some of Britain’s most exciting new stage talent.
Both entertaining and alarming, The Hothouse is certainly an experience to behold.
Guest blogger is Claire Furner, MuggleNet News Team