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The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

May the power of the brolly live on!

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The Hothouse, Trafalgar Studios
Me with Red Ribbon
rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly
Photo credit: http://www.shootgroup.com/2013/06/west-end-show-the-hot-house-gets-the-jay-brooks-treatment/

Cut and pasted from the Official Website:

The Hothouse
By Harold Pinter
Directed by Jamie Lloyd

Sat 4 May to Sat 3 August 2013

Harold Pinter's macabre tragicomedy returns to London's West End in this new production directed by Jamie Lloyd and starring Simon Russell Beale and John Simm.

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.

Follow the link for all the details and to book tickets:

Raks's Reaction

I have wanted to see this play ever since it opened for two key reasons - the subject matter of the play (I have a morbid fascination with asylums!) and John Simm. Later on, I discovered that John Heffernan (Peter in Emperor and Galilean) was also going to be in the play and so I was even more tempted to go and see the play. However, ticket prices at the Trafalgar Studios are expensive so I had to wait until I could find a special deal. I eventually managed to get a theatre and meal deal through lastminute.com which was just fab!

I FINALLY got to see the play tonight - Thursday 11 July. I was very excited in the run-up to seeing the play and my expectations were sky-high. I was not disappointed!

I arrived to find I had been given an on-stage seat which I was thrilled by. It meant I could see all of the actors up close and personal and that always gives me a thrill. Although my on-stage seat was at the back of the stage what I will say about this production is that it is truly played in the round, so the fact that I was facing in the opposite direction to the vast majority of the audience did not matter and did not affect my enjoyment of the play one jot. It is very hard to genuinely play in the round and so all the actors are to be commended for pulling it off!

All I wanted to say about the play and the production was that I absolutely loved it and I thought it was outstanding. For me, it was one of the best things I have seen this year and it would definitely make my top three, along with The Low Road at the Royal Court. The play was very dark but also incredibly funny - a very rare combination!

All of the actors' performances were pitch-perfect and all the performances were exceptional. I also thought the actors worked very well together and played off eachother brilliantly. Ensemble acting at its best.

In closing, I will make a very random comment. Having seen John Simm's performance in The Hothouse I would be very interested in seeing him take on Malvolio in Twelfth Night - if you have seen this production of The Hothouse you will know what I mean!

Topline Summary:
Must-see - Highly recommended. BRAVO!

You can view the trailer here:

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Saw this on Saturday evening from same perspective as yourself i.e. back of stage seating. Incidentally I loved being on one of the mismatched chairs, which gave the feeling of being part of the institution set. And I had one with arms so was exceptionally comfortable. :-))

Unbelievably, this was the first time that I have actually seen Simon Russell-Beale on stage. Clearly he was enjoying himself, hamming it up as necessary, but I could sense a quiet power about him nevertheless. John Heffernan as Lush could hardly stop laughing for real at times! John Simm was just impeccable as the ambitious Gibbs. Despite the many laughs, both halves of the play ended on a disturbing note, which was arresting. It was only at the interval that my daughter pointed out that the poor sacrificial Lamb was none other than Harry Melling who had played Harry Potter's cousin Dudley Dursley. I had not recognised the young man at all. Overall I loved the contrasting incompetent bureaucracy and staff complacency versus the sinister goings on and literal noises off.

This is only the second Pinter play I have ever seen (the first being Old Times) but I think I am now a fan. :-)

On-stage seating. Like you, I LOVED it! It was great to see all the actors up close and personal and also walking on and off the set. And yes, you are right, I did feel part of the institution. Unfortunately, unlike you, I did not get a comfortable chair with arms! But it is a short play, and it is gripping, so I didn't much notice!

I have seen Simon Russell-Beale on stage before, most recently in both Collaborators and Timon of Athens at the National. He is not an actor I particularly follow but here, as in Timon, his performance was exceptional.

I agree with you re John Heffernan. On the night I was in, I genuinely thought he had got a fit of giggles on a few occasions throughout the production. Having said that, he got all his lines out OK, and never missed a cue, so maybe it is all part of the performance!

John Simm was the main reason I was so keen to see the play and, as you said, he was just excellent. I thought his performance was pitch-perfect. I especially loved all the mannerisms that he adopted.

You are 100% right to point out that, despite the laughs, both halves of the play end on a very disturbing note. I had not really noticed but you are right.

Harry Potter reference - Won't surprise you to know I have no clue what you are talking about!

Pinter - Like you, I am not at all familiar with his plays. Like you, I saw Old Times but, although I saw it twice, I never understood what was really going on in the play. It was too opaque for me. I much preferred this play because it had a clear and strong storyline and plot that was easy to follow and to comprehend. It was dark and sinister, as well as being funny, but at least I understood what was going on!

Finally, I am glad that you loved the play and the production, as I did. Someone, who shall remain nameless, said it was rubbish. I think he is mad!

Edited at 2013-07-16 09:29 pm (UTC)

John Simm must have had difficulty keeping a straight face in some scenes – but presumably concentrating on the mannerisms was a big help. Clever.

I know that you have no HP references, but for me it is interesting to see these child stars now stretching their acting wings. Harry Melling's role in The Hothouse was a difficult one to respond to. His character Lamb was not particularly likeable, and yet one had to feel sorry for how the inexperienced man was used and abused. I can't quite decide whether he was 'disappeared' or ran off of his own volition – perhaps after being provoked into taking part in, or simply witnessing, the final atrocity that brought Gibbs to 'power'. What do you think?

Lamb. I did empathize with Lamb. He just wanted to be a part of the team and a part of things (who doesn't?). His over-eagerness to do anything to be a part of the team resulted in him being, in effect, a sacrificial lamb. There was no doubt in my mind that they killed him, by frying his brain. I don't think he was a part of any of the atrocities. I saw him as a complete innocent. I thought that was what the final scene strongly implied. They had to kill Lamb so that they could pin all the blame onto him, and get themselves off scott-free and never have any fear that Lamb would return to tell the truth and/or expose them.

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