It’s Christmas Day in a nameless state-run mental institution where the inmates are subjected to a tirade of mindless cruelty. A maniacal and self-obsessed leader breeds a contagion of hierarchical savagery amongst his staff, who thrive on a noxious diet of delusion and deceit. The day got off to a lousy start! A death and a birth. Absolutely bloody scandalous! Is it too much to ask – to keep the place clean? Under a veil of devilish wit and subversive humour, Pinter’s biting political commentary on the perils of unchecked power is as vital and pertinent today as when it was written in the 50s.
I had no idea what the plot of The Hothouse was going to entail until I attended West End Live and two of the stars, Harry Melling and John Heffernan, took to the stage to tell us all about it. My friend Jemma wanted to see it and as I love theatre I was more than happy to go along and give it a go. Even with a bit more knowledge I wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed.
In a frantic 90 minutes the audience is taken on a bizarre yet hilarious journey and you are drawn in completely by the astounding quality of the acting. Harry Melling proves he’s much more than just that kid from Harry Potter with a truly energetic performance as Lamb, John Simm is decidedly camp and flawless as Gibbs and of course Simon Russell Beale steadily unravels over the course of the story playing the role of Roote perfectly. For something with such a macabre plot behind it there are a considerable number of laugh out loud moments.
Due to the small intimate nature of the theatre there is no such thing as a bad seat. In fact we were seated in the very back row and not only was the view of the stage great it also meant we could escape very quickly after the show and pop round to the back of the theatre where we were able to meet and get autographs from some of the cast. Both Harry Melling and John Simm were a pleasure to meet and indeed watch on the stage.
We went on a Monday because as part of the Trafalgar Transformed program all tickets for Monday performances are available for just £15. Half of these are available through a special outreach scheme led by the Ambassador Theatre Group Creative Learning Department, targeted towards schools and first-time theatregoers, with the other half being released monthly to the public on the first day of each month for 24 hours. (So if you want to go see it on a Monday in July pop online on the 1st and you’ll pay just £15 plus booking fee for your tickets.) Day seats are also available on the day of the performance from 10am in person from the Box Office for just £10.