Since its opening at London’s Trafalgar Studios on 4th May, The Hothouse has received some pretty dazzling reviews – and it’s easy to see why. A great cast, including John Simm as the cold, calculating Gibbs and Simon Russell Beale as the blustering Roote; a snappy script from Harold Pinter which is just as relevant now as it was when it was first written over 50 years ago; clever staging and smart direction.
The Hothouse is a dark comedy, set in an unnamed institution which treats its patients more like prisoners, and the action takes place between just six key members of staff. The dialogue is fast-paced and witty, and the comedy is both verbal and physical, occasionally bordering on slapstick. The fact that the audience spends most of the play in fits of giggles makes the dark moments all the darker – there is a sinister side to this play, dealing with incarceration and torture, that is thrown into sharp relief against the laughs.
If swinging between amusement and uncertainty is not enough for you, more adventurous theatre-goers can opt to sit on the stage itself, where a few rows of seats place you in the midst of the action, and within touching distance of the actors as the power balance crumbles and the play descends into hysterical anarchy.