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Review of The Hothouse at Trafalgar Studios

The HothouseExcited to see a Pinter production in the West End, I jumped at the opportunity to take a seat, front row, “behind the stage” in the newly reformed and redesigned studio space.

This Pinter piece, originally written in the 1950s, is as relevant in today’s society as it was in 1958;  mental health treatments and institutions may have developed, yet the way society controls and segregates its sufferers is still hugely stigmatised.

Lloyd’s production exposes this in a raw, yet comedic manner. In true Pinter form, it’s what isn’t said that grabs the audience’s attention. ”I think we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid’‘  Harold Pinter.

It is Christmas Day, in an unknown institution, where the inmates are nameless and distinguished only by a number.

The opening scene between Gibbs (Simm) and Roote (Beale) is beautifully staged and perfectly executed. It sets up the production superbly and instantly transports the audience into a false sense of security, we laugh lots and loudly to their quick witty exchange of words and dialect. The introduction of Miss Cutts (Varma) and Lamb (Melling) takes the piece to another level, moved on beautifully with the introduction of Lush (Hefferman). We witness the aptly named characters manipulate and question their part in the “Ministry’s power ploy”.

I cannot fault any of the performances, and would like to highlight the tour de force deliveries that Simon Russell Beale, Harry Melling and John Heffernan give. Also, John Simm is flawless as the conniving Gibbs.

Without giving too much away about this production, for it is one that I wholeheartedly recommend everyone sees, I can say that the juxtaposition of comedy and pathos, especially at the end of Act One, is perfectly timed. As an observer of the piece you find yourself laughing at the ridicule and silliness of the characters’ predicament, whilst feeling awful for not seeing the seriousness behind the patients’ current situation. Melling’s spectacular performance of the obedient yet delusional Lamb as he goes to the slaughter left me and the audience speechless. Ironically there is something rather chilling and cold about Jamie Lloyd Productions’ latest offering, “The Hothouse” currently showing at Trafalgar Studios.

Review by Faye Stockley

The Hothouse Director Jamie Lloyd
Cast: Clive Rowe ‘Tubb’, John Simm ‘Gibbs’, Indira Varma ‘Miss Cutts’, John Heffernan ‘Lush’, Harry Melling ‘Lamb’, Simon Russell Beale ‘Roote’, Christopher Timothy ‘Lobb’.

Designer Soutra Gilmour
Lighting Designer Neil Austin
Sound and Music Ben and Max Ringham
Associate Director Edward Stambollouian
Costume Supervisor Binnie Bowerman
Props Chris Marcus and Jonathan Hall
Production Manager Dominic Fraser

Friday 10th May 2013