In this 55 minute physical theatre performance, Theatre Re open the lid of a long forgotten toy box and therein lies a small circus.
For lovers of a classic farce, Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse (1958) is the pinnacle of thought-provoking comedy. But that’s for people who love farce and in Jamie Lloyd’s production at Trafalgar studios, you get little else. No moments of reflection, not enough points of pure disgust but still a great mix of institutional politics and co-worker comedy.
Simon Russell Beale plays Colonel Roote, the incompetent head of a state-run mental institution where career competition and abuse of patients is rife. He sweats and bumbles his way through his duties perfectly and after you leave the theatre, the image of his character, whose responsibilities extend over hundreds of vulnerable people, becomes a lasting, frightening picture. But while you’re watching the play, there’s little to recoil at.
Contrastly, Indira Varma as sexy Miss Cutts, who’s having an affair with her boss, hits some perfect notes. She makes an utter fool of herself as she desperately tries to find some satisfaction and power. Her delusion is matched only by John Simm’s fierce, sharp callousness as another of Roote’s subordinates. But I found myself waiting to be stirred during this play. Only after I left the theatre did I feel its strength and enjoy its politics.