Robert Tanitch reviews The Hotel Plays at The Langham Hotel, London W1
“I have found,” said Tennessee Williams, “it easier to identify with characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person.”
Williams, one of the great American playwrights of the 20th century, also wrote an incredibly number of one-act plays, many of them not discovered until well after his death. The Defibrillator Company are reviving three which are set in hotel bedrooms and they are actually staging them in three separate suites on three different floors at The Langham in Portland Street, three minutes walk from Oxford Circus.
The Pink Bedroom (which dates from 1935) is very short. A mistress (Helen George) gives her long-time, down-at-heel, married 40-year-old lover (and looking it) the push. She has better options.
Green Eyes (written in 1970), directed by James Hillier, is much more substantial.
A couple (Aisling Loftus and Gethin Anthony) on the morning after their wedding night verbally and physically abuse each other. He, a traumatised Vietnam soldier, too drunk, too impotent to know what really happened, accuses her of having had sex with another man.
Sunburst (written in 1980) is in a much lighter key. An Italian bellboy (Daniel Ings) and his lover attempt to steal the diamond ring of a raddled old lady (Carol Macready), a former Shakespearean actress.
There are three performances a night at 7.00, 7.30 and 8.00. Audiences (maximum 37) are conducted by an usher to the three suites. Seating is on benches round the bed; site-specific theatregoing could hardly be more voyeuristic.
Incidentally, Williams, who spent much of his life in hotel bedrooms, died in his suite at the Elysee in New York City on 23 February 1983. He was 71