If you think that youth theatre is merely for parents hoping to see their offspring treading the boards, ready to pat them on the head and take them out for a celebratory meal after the performance, you may want to re-think that assumption, once you have seen the adaptation of Ali Smith’s Hotel World, presented by Kidbrooke School.
Having no prior knowledge of the Ali Smith novel, this performance would be my first introduction to the five female characters. The play takes us through a series of encounters between these five women that is based within the walls of the Globe Hotel.
Sara is dead, she died in a fall down the dumb-waiter. Her sister Clare is obsessed with finding out how she died. Lise is the receptionist at the hotel who offers a room for the night to Else, a homeless person who begs outside the entrance to this lush hotel. Penny is a journalist who is staying in the room opposite the scene of Sara’s demise.
Though you may not grasp the intentions and connections between these women, in the initial part of this piece, the mysterious and circular nature of the dialogue and scenes reveal the story in a manner that engages you in a feeling of discovery.
Slowly, the meaning behind some of the earlier scenes which, at the time, may have seemed somewhat disjointed, begin to become clear. I liked the way the essential themes - of love, life, the importance of time - are gently realised and not force fed.
The set, designed by Becky Hurst, is minimal and I particularly liked the way in which the portions of it were re-used, especially the 6 brightly coloured 10ft rectangles that act as portals, giving both the audience and cast insight into other dimensions usually hidden from us. The minimal nature of the set helps the audience to focus on the dialogue and character interactions on stage.
Unlike some productions, where changes are noisy and cumbersome and can act as distractions, the reuse of the backdrops and main stage props was integral, in my opinion, to re-enforcing the circular theme and nature of the story.
In a performance by the cast of seven, this play directed by Lucy Cuthbertson, showing at the Greenwich Theatre and due this year to play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is smart, and engaging.
The troop of young actors confidently deliver in a manner that has their audience captivated and engaged. Particularly strong performances were given by Leonie Sheridan, who plays Penny and Holly Cook who plays Else. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Hotel World