Imagine the experience of being thrown into a Fawlty Towers like hotel. This is a reviewer’s nightmare. Part of the sadistic fun of reviewing things is the ability to fade into the inky darkness at the back of a room, smirk, wince and write witty comments before silently slinking out at the end of the performance. The Hotel – more experience than performance – throws this system into disarray.
It’s a horribly run down and dysfunctional place, with weak music and comedy in the basement, an appallingly dirty and rat infested kitchen and a business suite allowing access to only three web sites. Obviously part of the joke is how a place like this ever managed to past Health and Safety laws, never mind attracting visitors.
Yet the lack of a guide leaves guests flailing around for direction or something to do. Being forced to endure awkward situations, such as being served at the restaurant, produces more embarrassment than laughter. Much of the more subtle humour – on the website for example – is also drowned out or lost on an audience exposed to the more obvious humour of the performance.
The novelty of this experience must be acknowledged, and new ideas should always be welcomed at the Fringe. Yet the Hotel only ever manages to mildly entertain and is frequently uncomfortable and annoying. Get the suitcase dear, we’re leaving.