Ascot Park Hotel, Tay Street, Invercargill

30/05/2014 - 03/05/2014


27/08/2013 - 31/08/2013

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

12/04/2011 - 17/04/2011

The Sebel Trinity Wharf, Tauranga

22/10/2009 - 31/10/2009

Miro's Motel, 58 Rifle Range Rd, Taupo

08/05/2008 - 18/05/2008

Museum Hotel, Wellington

01/04/2008 - 21/04/2008

Museum Hotel, Wellington

09/02/2007 - 04/03/2007

Christchurch Arts Festival 2013

Southland Festival of the Arts 2014

Festival of Colour - Wanaka

Production Details

Devised by:
Paul McLaughlin, Martyn Roberts, Lucy Briant, Carol Smith, Gavin Rutherford, Gabrielle Anwen

One luxury hotel room, 50 minutes, 12 audience members –

What happens behind the door of Room 217 (or, in Tauranga, Room 329)?
an intimate theatre experience…

hotel premiered at the Wellington Fringe Festival 2007, and returns 1-21- April on-site at The Museum Hotel, room 217. Two or three times a night 12 audience members will experience a 50 minute exploration of the hotel – who inhabits Hotel rooms? What do they do in these temporary spaces? Themes of love, death, mystery and transience; of loneliness of solitude, introspection and joy.

hotel is a devised work of theatre created by some of Wellington’s top award-winning theatre practitioners – Paul McLaughlin, Martyn Roberts, Miranda Manasiadis, Carrie McLaughlin, Lucy Briant, Danny Mulheron, Gavin Rutherford, Gabrielle Anwen and Carol Smith.

hotel is an exploration of the types of people who inhabit these temporary spaces; who they are, why they go there and what they do. Working from these basic premises the original devisors of hotel created the characters you will meet tonight, a cross section of hotel dwellers. They then worked out stories for them, based on research from hotel staff, their own observations and urban mythology.

hotel features a 100% Aotearoa music soundtrack from top LOOP recordings artists.


Performed every day of the Festival, on-site at The Museum Hotel, Cable St (or see above for other venues)
9 Feb – 4 Mar 2007
Mon – Thu 8:00, 9:00
Fri – Sat 8:00, 9:00, 10:00
Sun 4:00, 8:00, 9:00
Tickets $25/20

bookings essential: 021 1464 737

Wanaka – Festival of Colour 2011
Edgewater Resort
12 April 7pm, 8pm
13 April 7pm, 8pm
14 April 7pm, 8pm
15 April 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
16 April 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
17 April 7pm, 8pm


TUE 27 AUG – SAT 31 AUG, 6.30pm; 8pm
Book here – Service Fee Applies


Indulge in a two course set dinner for only $37 pp. Plus, we’ll treat you to a free glass of bubbles to enjoy during the show.
Reservations required:  Valid 3-7 Sep 2013:  03 355 3535
TUE 3 SEP – SAT 7 SEP, 6.30pm; 8.00pm
Book here – Service Fee Applies

Ascot Park Hotel, Tay Street, Invercargill
Wednesday, April 30 – Saturday, May 3
6:30pm & 8:30pm
Bookings essential: limited to 20 people per show
Book: Online at
(Booking fees apply)

Created with additional support from:
Carrie McLaughlin, Danny Mulheron, Miranda Manasiadis, Shoshana McCallum, Susan Page
Kate McGill 

Performed by
Gabrielle Anwen or Amy Straker
Gavin Rutherford
Carol Smith or Carolyn McLaughlin
Lucy Briant or Renee Sheridan
Paul McLaughlin or Matthew Chamberlain

Tauranga Season 2008
Performed by (in order of appearance):
Gabrielle Anwen, Jessica Stringer,Gavin Rutherford, Carol Smith, Lucy Briant and Paul McLaughlin 

Wanaka Season 2011
performed by:
Amy Tarleton 
Paul McLaughlin 
Jess Robinson 
Carolyn McLaughlin 
Toby Leach. 

Paul McLaughlin
Lauren Hill
Michael Ness
Acushla-Tara Sutton
Kathleen Burns  

Anita (Young Woman):  Acushla-Tara Sutton
Businessman:  Michael Ness
Airline Hostess:  Francesca Emms
Woman:  Heather O'Carroll
Man:  Paul McLaughlin 

Theatre ,

55 mins, no interval

Secret lives in common

Review by Ruby Cumming 01st May 2014

Hotel is a treat. It is seldom that one is privileged to see these random, honest moments so closely, in the environment in which they occur.  Buying a ticket gives you permission, for the length of the show, to spy on what people do in hotel rooms when no one is watching.

You are a fly on the wall as these strangers live their lives right there. You are an intruder, witnessing both the sublime and the mundane. 

The beauty of theatre is that it grants you a window into the lives of others. Hotel brings a heightened sense of intimacy and honesty to this idea. The audience experience is similar to that of a piece of furniture in a hotel room, privy to the secret lives of these selected strangers who have nothing in common but the room they stay in.

Michael Ness gives a devastating performance as the businessman. Acushla-Tara Sutton is gorgeous and vulnerable. Francesca Emms presents us with two selves – the self she presents outside the hotel is barely recognisable. The couple Heather O’Carroll and Paul McLaughlin portray is convincing and sometimes hilarious. Local actress Moira Brew also appears in a mysterious cameo.

The music is beautifully chosen to complement each scene, setting the tone and providing a consistent thread that runs through the piece, varying in volume and intensity when necessary.

The setting, too, is integral to the show. Perform it anywhere else and you would lose that truth – you really are in a hotel room.

I come away with the wonderful sense that we all have something in common, even if that something only comes out behind closed doors. 

A look around the room reveals tears in the eyes of those next to me, and as we are walking out, I hear a woman telling her friend she’s not sure if she liked the piece or not. Perhaps she felt uncomfortable to be privy to the secret lives of these strangers with nothing in common but the room they stay in.


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Hotel Secrets

Review by Sharu Delilkan 03rd Sep 2013

The all-too-familiar experience began as we entered The Rendezvous Hotel to see the Christchurch Arts Festival show Hotel. We walked into the reception and spoke to the concierge who said that we would be called when the show was about to begin. What I’m referring to is all the unknowns we are confronted with when we walk into a hotel, that and the often inevitable wait before you are shown to your room. 

In keeping with this routine when ‘checking into’ a hotel room, we had to wait for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time. But eventually we were told that it wouldn’t be long before we would be led to the appointed room. [More]


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Transience and melancholy

Review by Erin Harrington 01st Sep 2013

We enter the hotel suite as silent intruders –well, more like giggly nosy parkers – while a woman lies relaxing in the bathtub and a couple are curled up in bedroom together, asleep. Hotel invites us to spend a voyeuristic hour with the inhabitants of the room, and 15 of us sit along two of the walls of the corner suite as four unconnected stories play out.

The 14th floor room is whatever its inhabitants want it to be: a staging ground for a dirty weekend retreat (Kathleen Burns and Paul McLaughlin), a base for a business trip with somewhat personal undertones (Michael Ness), an opportunity to venture into unknown territory (Acushla-Tara Sutton), a place to pass the time (Laura Hill) and a way to make some money (Phoebe McKellar). The characters share the space, unaware of the past and future guests around them. In the safe, neutral space of the private room, the characters’ vulnerability, in all its beauty and ugliness, is on raw display. As an audience member, this intimacy is both challenging and rewarding. The performances are clearly rendered, deeply committed and very truthful.

The narrative of the hour-long show is well-structured, and its beats and moods are supported by a soundscape of kiwi electronica. A good part of the enjoyment is in figuring out who specifically these people are and why they’re here – and whether or not they want to be here at all. While the specifics of each story differ, and despite the humour in the script, there is an overarching feeling of transience and melancholy, and the sense that the sanctuary-like isolation of the hotel room can cut both ways. Even though the actors come whisper-close to one other, sharing props and furniture, and sometimes moving in concert, there is always a sense that behind the air of make-believe there is a great deal of loneliness.

The room itself is a catalyst, altering – or perhaps, silently condoning – the behaviour of its guests. Hill’s enigmatic, boozy traveller has the most pragmatic view of the hotel suite – the pleasant decor and the tasteful paintwork mask the rough nights and bodily fluids of countless others before her; she refuses to touch the television remote without covering her hand. (I suspect that this is not the sort of thing that finds itself into the advertising copy of the hotels in question.)

A word of congratulations must go to my fellow audience members, some of whom anxiously commented in the elevator that this was the first time they had been up so high up since things fell down. A thank you, too, to the performers for taking a bow at the end. While I’m certainly not averse to being kicked out into the night, sans closure, after a piece of immersive site-specific theatre, after such a rewarding performance it was a pleasure to be able to offer thanks through applause.


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Layered, skilfully acted, tightly directed and intrusively intimate

Review by Unattributed online 17th Apr 2011

Site-Specific Theatre’s Hotel is another unusual show, performed in a real suite before an audience of 20, which is enough when you add five larger than life actors.

Just as hotels see only certain facets of their occupants, our view is limited to what the characters reveal to us in the time they have the room.

We get voyeuristic glimpses of the lives of couples and singles on business and pleasure, doing many of the things we all do in hotel rooms, and some we have probably never considered.

The result is powerful, moving drama with a strong theme of melancholy, supported by a soundtrack of Kiwi music.

Hotel is layered, skilfully acted, tightly directed and intrusively intimate, and well deserves an intelligent audience.


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Maybe it was a bad night. Maybe we didn’t get it.

Review by Caroline Harker 15th Apr 2011

I was suspicious of HOTEL from the start. Usually a play’s advertisement highlights the actors and the director. But in the Festival of Colour programme none got a mention. Either they hadn’t been chosen yet, or maybe it was meant to be a surprise. The programme did talk the play up with some good words; “…intimate… unfolding stories… mesmerizing… multi-award winning.” 

Well now I’ve seen the show, I know the names of the cast and director (Paul McLaughlin), and I’m still not satisfied. Call me old fashioned but I like theatre to be moving, uplifting, funny, inspiring or all of the above. This sadly gave me none of these.

A parade of different people who have used hotel room 301 stroll in and out – one shouts four letter words into his cellphone (Paul McLaughlin), another drinks herself into unconsciousness (Jess Robinson), a couple play some apparently sexy games (Carrie McLaughlin and Toby Leach), another gets all dressed up (Amy Tarleton) and waits, and waits.

The audience waited too. The acting is good, and there are one or two twists at the end which are entertaining, but frankly, awards or not, this felt like a waste of time to me. And if the other 19 people squashed into the hotel room were moved, uplifted, amused or inspired they were certainly weren’t showing it.

Maybe it was a bad night. Maybe we didn’t get it. Other punters and reviewers have loved this show. Not me. 


Sam Jackson April 16th, 2011

Caroline, in your review of C’Mon Black you complain that it is not cutting edge and challenging, then when Hotel challenges you to re-frame the way you engage with a theatre piece, you complain even louder. Clearly inconsistent. Do you want to be spoon-fed or not or what?

Good on you for being honest about your reaction (in writing about productions critics also reveal much about themselves), but having seen Hotel in Wellington, I have to say I found it totally absorbing. Telling these stories through real human behaviour with no concessions to an audience presence was innovative, cutting edge and challenging then, and I assume that although the cast has changed the nature and quality of the production has not.

I came away thrilled that I had shared insights into these lives and was happy that what I got out of it was directly proportional to what my enquiring mind put into it. 

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Real privacy at work

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 28th Oct 2009

The first rule of improvising, according to the American approach, is to decide ‘Where am I?’ This determines much about who I am, what I want, how I get it, etc. This excellent little show uses that site-specific rule of location as its spine and then gently, gingerly, and beguilingly lets the flesh of four story lines grow on it and around it.

Room 329 at the Sebel becomes the train station for characters who occupy the same space in different time zones. This is a fantastic choice of work for the growing and most-popular-ever 2009 Tauranga Arts Festival.

It’s a neat concept and I really applaud Paul McLaughlin and company for their work. The original devisors and performers are a joy to watch; timing of dialogue (at times beautifully overlapping or echoing a word, a phrase, a gesture – excellent!) is superb as these actors allow themselves the luxury of time and place to just be in front of a small audience where the 4th wall is well and truly up. Stanislavky called this kind of work “Public Solitude”. Actually it’s compellingly voyeuristic and I think Paul is onto something very strong here with this and his next work, Salon. It’s satisfying to see real privacy at work; a scratch here, a fart there. More please.

As in life, there are many questions when we meet these characters. Who are they? Why are they here? And to quote Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?” – not to mention a knife. So many questions…

We do get clues along the way as the work develops throughout its 55 minute duration. It’s like an Agatha Christie, minus the murder, slightly sexier, and on speed. Come on, people, work it out! I love a play that knows its audience has intelligence.  This work really requires us to mix and mingle with its characters’ needs and wants and most answers are eventually surrendered.

The chilled-out soundscape by Loop Recordings is beautiful – it alone highlights the subtle theatricality of moments with a phrase, a minor chord, or a major note. Lovely timing or serendipity? And the fabulous Sebel Hotel is itself a character as it lends a sophisticated, yet strangely beige-on-white impersonal setting for the human design to develop is patina in Room  329.

The play leaves me with a lingering impression of the view of permanent dislocation amongst its characters. Even the most familiar (a married couple, a mother and child) fail to really communicate with one another.

Gavin Rutherford finds a moment of simple love and connection for a memory in a photo of times gone by … a moment impossible to recapture except in private memory.

Gabrielle Anwen is like a fragile orchid waiting for Godot to arrive. Carol Smith is sure, wild, and gives us a portrait of the terribly lonesome.

Lucy Briant and Paul McLaughlin expose a side of intimacy not often talked about, let alone seen.

Overall I highly recommend this location and character-driven work; my only criticism is that it felt slightly short. I found myself wanting another 20 minutes or so to really get down to the bone with each character. I do believe that it’s about quality, not quantity, but I think there is slightly more to mine with each story.  Catch this if you can.


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Perving on private lives

Review by John Smythe 02nd Apr 2008

I have little to add to my enthusiastic review of the premiere performance in Fringe 07. Hotel is just as absorbing on a second viewing; the casting changes add slightly different colourings, and some overlaps and synchronicities seem more ingenious and stylish. If you missed it the first time, and you don’t have extremely conventional and conservative notions of what constitutes a play, don’t miss the return season or forthcoming tour (see below).

Again I am loath to give too much of the show away; much of the pleasure is in the slow reveals of who each character really is and what they are up to as they play out their scenarios in the same Room 217 (a suite) but in their own discrete time-frames, oblivious to each other.

Each turns out to have a flipside to the one they first present, and all move through a range of emotions and states of being with little apparent contrivance. And these are just a few of the hundreds who may have occupied this space, including in reality as this is a real – site-specific – hotel suite.

The enigma remains: what’s with the carving knife in the fridge freezer? Perhaps if the sexual fantasy-enacting couple – played on a keen edge of playfulness and danger by Renee Sheridan and Matthew Chamberlain – had cut the cards a different way, an alternative role-play scenario would have required it. (Any other suggestions as to its meaning? The more the merrier.)

Gabriel Anwen’s romance-anticipating woman reveals herself simply by being a lover, mother, daughter, excited, waiting, nervous, stern, patient … etc (to say more would reveal too much).

Compared with his very first performance, Gavin Rutherford’s very assertive boss-man manger-by-mobile has more subtle shades in his spectrum, challenging us to judge him at every turn and setting us up nicely for the discovery of what has actually brought him to this part of the world.

A number of props – the remote, the wine and wine glasses, the white shirts for ironing – are ingeniously shared by characters in their different zones. But I choose to believe the wallet the boss-man uses towards the end was also his when, at the beginning, the woman in red (Rachel More, also stage manager) filches notes from it on her way out. And given what else we have come to know about his personal life, this does impact on my judgement.

Carolyn McLaughlin swings deliciously from a fastidious fear of germs and insomnia-exacerbated boredom to reckless abandon with an unseen playmate before her character’s occupation becomes apparent on her departure.  

Other unseen characters, on the far ends of phone-calls, also inhabit the inter-woven stories. And having sat along one wall (although this may change at other venues), to perve on these private lives, as we walk past other numbered doors on the way back to the lift, we may very well wonder what secrets they have hidden.

With two, three or even four performances a day, and a tour to Taupo’s Erupt Festival coming up 8 to 18 May, the best way to keep up with what’s happening is to go to


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Loneliness, isolation, and transience

Review by Sarah Richardson 10th Mar 2007

Hotel is the first production of the recently-formed company Site- Specific, which takes as its starting-point a particular location, and devises stories and characters around that site in order to stage it there. After seeing the play for myself, I met with producer Paul McLaughlin to talk about the ethos of Site-Specific and Hotel itself.

Hotel is staged in the opulent surroundings of the Museum Hotel – opulent being the operative word here – I’ve never seen so much gold paint and chiffon in my life. Considering that they proved a particular fascination to the other audience members on the evening I went and have been commented on elsewhere, I can’t help but drop in a word about the bathrooms. "White" doesn’t even begin to describe them. I felt like I’d walked into an off-screen bathroom in the final scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The audience is, for space reasons, kept down to a group of twelve. We leave the foyer of the hotel to go up to the second floor in the lift, and then follow the hall down to the tastefully luxurious and slightly more pared-back Room 217, where the play proper is staged.

The audience walks into the room, past a chemise crumpled on the floor by the bathroom door and, a few steps later, a woman soaking in a milky bathtub. We go through into the bedroom, where the double bed hosts both a spooning couple and a florally papered hatbox. We then sit in a row against the wall, facing into the apartment, and players begin coming in and out of the room.

Hotel runs until March 4, so I don’t want to ruin the stories for you, as a lot of the pleasure of the play comes from the various twists in the unfolding stories of the characters and their reasons for being in the hotel.

There are, however, a young woman brimming with anticipation, a sharkish businessman, a couple indulging in some intriguing behaviour, an apparently uptight, germ-phobic woman (someone should have directed her to the pristine bathrooms in the foyer), and, fleetingly, a prostitute. The characters do not intrude on one another’s space initially, but as the play progresses their overlap increases, and we witness how they share their loneliness, isolation, and transience just as much as their hotel room.

The all-New Zealand soundtrack reflects this, as, in a lovely twist, the lyrics of certain songs connect several seemingly distinct and different characters. According to McLaughlin, the music had an influential role in developing characters.

McLaughlin says he developed the ideas behind Hotel as a way to explore how space defines behaviour. It is tailored around its particular room in Wellington, but could easily be adapted to any luxury hotel room in any part of New Zealand.

Indeed, Hotel has already received invitations from hotel chains, and festivals around the country. The audience is given a chance to be the much-envied fly on the wall, but there is, of course, a limit to how much a fly gets to see. Characters don’t break into monologues, and so certain details are left unexplained, most frustratingly and hilariously the puzzle of a knife stored in the freezer for the duration of some characters’ stay.

In his producer’s notes, McLaughlin mentions the "filmic style" of the piece. This style comes through in the intimacy between actors and audience that comes from their physical proximity, and calls for a lot of subtlety in the acting, which the actors delivered on.

The acting was uniformly excellent. Even with several actors in one room playing out different storylines simultaneously, I never felt that the delicately layered stories were jostling for attention, but they allowed for a smooth flow between different characters standing only a couple of feet apart. This filmic element was also created to appeal to today’s high level of film literacy.

In the present theatre environment in Wellington, there is little space for actors between achieving success in the "emerging talent" forums of BATS and Toi Whakaari and the more commercial theatres. McLaughlin is keen for the company to expand, as he wants to encourage these young actors who currently don’t have much of a middle ground to work in.

McLaughlin is interested in making theatre appeal to those who don’t usually go, and emphasises the importance of slickness in marketing and style in order to get these people in. Although the usual defence for the safe programming of most theatres in Wellington is that young people don’t have the money to go to the theatre and therefore shouldn’t be targeted, McLaughlin makes comparisons with the fashion and music industries, which have been focussing on their New Zealand origins and do target youth. Both have been flourishing in recent years.

As an audience member, although I have seen a lot of very exciting, edgy and unquestionably excellent work in Wellington in the past few years, most of it hasn’t been in the commercial theatres, and I do appreciate seeing a show that is at once slick, glossy and professionally devised and acted, and innovative and firmly anchored in a local and contemporary setting.

The marketing of the play reflects this philosophy. The posters and programmes are beautifully designed, as is the website, which offers much more to the browser than most productions staged at professional theatres in Wellington these days. McLaughlin stresses the importance of the role that all of Hotel‘s sponsors have played, but especially those of Neogine Communication Design and Silverstripe, the website designers.

Although the company are well-established professionals, Hotel was part of the 2007 Fringe Festival in order to attract a Fringe demographic. Hotel is a success, both in its larger goals and as a piece of entertaining and involving theatre. I look forward to Site-Specific’s next endeavour.


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Slow cooking enriched flavours

Review by Michael Wray 25th Feb 2007

Hotel is a work that boasts a heavyweight line-up, with a liberal sprinkling of Chapman Tripp Theatre Award winners in the creative team. It shows. Hotel is a well developed, seductive piece that is hugely enjoyable.

If a hotel room could replay us its memories, then this show is what we would see. In this case, we have four separate sets of guests. The account of their stay in room 217 is what we are shown, in four parallel strands. The only fixed element is the room. With no set-changes, no lighting (beyond a domestic light switch) and no sound system (beyond a home CD player) the onus is purely on the actors to deliver a theatrical experience.

The four strands are presented woven together, though the stories are quite separate. Actors from each strand will often co-habit the "stage" and props, such as a bottle of wine, are shared. This requires a coordinated choreography that generates pleasing moments, such as one character removing a shirt only for another to start ironing it.

The pace of the show is slow and measured. It takes time for the back-story of each thread to reveal itself and the tempo is not forced. The scene is played out at the pace in which the scene would occur. We are not privy to any additional information and must be patient. This slow-cooked process works really well and allows the flavours of each story to come through.

Entry to the two bedroom suite requires us to detour via the bathroom past the woman relaxing in the tub, through the bedroom past the man and woman sleeping in the bed, to sit on a bench seat along the wall. We stay in the lounge area, which is where most of the performance will take place. The bedroom door remains open and provides an additional stage, whilst the bathroom and second bedroom are unseen spaces from which a variety of sounds will emerge.

A hooker leaves the second bedroom, relieves a wallet of some money and exits. I don’t know which of the four strands this relates to, probably an unexplored fifth, and the actress is not credited.

Gavin Rutherford is a belligerent business-man. Taking phone calls and ironing his shirts for the week, I must admit I recognised more than a little of my own weekly routine in his performance. Gabrielle Anwen is excited to find a new dress awaiting her and prepares for a special someone to arrive. Paul McLaughlin and Lucy Briant present an interesting front. Are they business colleagues indulging in a little horseplay or is it more than that? Carol Smith leaves to play with someone in 213, but returns. Her character is the most enigmatic, with behaviour appearing quite eccentric at times. Of all the characters, it takes the longest to discover what is behind her actions.

For the interest that staging this performance in a hotel room has generated, there is nothing here that could not be replicated on a conventional stage. The portrayal of people in-transit for varying reasons and the skilful interweaving of their use of props and space would appear just as impressive in such intimate places as Bats or Circa Two.

The use of a hotel room does it give it a sense of occasion and adds an edge of novel excitement. Repeat that too often and the novelty could wear off, which leaves the important question of whether this is in itself good theatre that engages, entertains and provokes. For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Regardless of venue, I look forward to Site Specific’s next production with interest.


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Peering in

Review by Lynn Freeman 15th Feb 2007

Hotel is one of the most talked about works in the Fringe, an ambitious site specific work with a big budget in Fringe terms and a highly experienced cast. It’s set and performed in an apartment at the Museum Hotel.  There was a yelp of surprise from one of the audience as we walked through the bathroom, another as we passed into the lounge via the bedroom. 

The drama, well actually a series of tiny dramas, unfold very slowly, leaving the audience to make any connections.  When you stay in a hotel room it’s a temporary home but we don’t treat it the same way – they’re transient, places of convenience, often venues for illicit love affairs but not only that kind of loving. 

We the audience are not jus a fly on the wall, we’re like a hidden camera, peering into the lives of these people who’re just like us.  It stays with you, this play, thanks to a strong central idea, great performances by the actors and devisors  (Gabriell Anwen, Gavin Rutherford, Carol Smith, Lucy Briant and Paul McLaughlin). intriguing characters, imaginative direction and great music.

McLaughlin, the founder of the company, plans for this to be the first of several site specific devised works they produce. Bring it on!


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Funny, real and genuinely moving

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th Feb 2007

Hotels and theatre go together. Plaza Suite, Grand Hotel and Separate Tables come to mind, while playwrights and directors in the States spend many hours in hotel rooms frantically fixing their plays before heading off for opening night on Broadway.

But here at the Museum Hotel a group of actors has come up with a first: a fifty minute play performed in a hotel room to an audience limited to 12. And it’s not a Fringe festival gimmick; it’s further proof, if it is still needed, that a theatre is necessary for only special effects and, most importantly, a paying audience large enough to cover costs and wages.

Hotel probes the lives of five people who stay in the hotel. There’s a couple (Paul McLaughlin and Lucy Briant) who has come to recharge their sexual batteries, a businessman (Gavin Rutherford) whose problems at work are compounded with a personal grief, a young married woman (Gabrielle Anwen) on her own and waiting for a visitor, and a lonely woman (Carol Smith) who is out for fun and relaxation in a city where she is unknown and will stay only a night.

Nothing novel here you might think, but the intimacy of the setting, the economy with which the stories are told and interwoven with each other, and the caliber of the acting is such that one soon gets caught up in the characters’ lives. And yes it could all be done on a stage but it would lose the frisson that comes from the closeness of the actors and the reality, for example, of the balcony overlooking Tory Street and the sounds from the “off-stage” bathroom.

However, it’s not the setting that is important in the end but the lives revealed, the stories told which are funny, real and genuinely moving. Let’s hope enough groups of twelve visit this hotel room to cover the costs and wages for the people behind Hotel.


G-Star February 12th, 2007

You must see HOTEL. You are shown 'onto the set' through the Museum Hotel - an experience itself, the long lacy wall hangings and trippy carpet design giving you a sense of surrealism. You are invited into Room 217 by a woman in a bath. Curiosity consumes your body from here on. Segments of diverse characters' lives pan out before you seperately yet with a unique blend of cohesion. The actors are brilliant. They all adopt the feeling of aloneness while being a team together in an intimate space, each giving complete attention to the character they portray. The stories weave delicately in and out of eachother and the subtleties were not lost on me though I'd love to see it again and piece together the puzzle some more! Thankyou to all involved for creating such a piece of art full of feelings and realness.

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Truly intimate theatre

Review by John Smythe 11th Feb 2007

It’s such a great idea, allowing us – 12 at a time – to be privy to four scenarios that happen in the same hotel room at different times but, in performance, are overlaid on one another. In a twist on the “if these walls could talk” notion, we get to be the wall that watches.

Gathering in the sumptuous foyer of Chris Parkin’s uniquely styled Museum Hotel, our hostess gracefully confirms our bookings and a sense of relaxed opulence and quality. And yes, Neil, the events we are taken to observe definitely do qualify as Fringe. Apart from the innovative conception and implementation, and the low cost / return ratio with such a small maximum audience, we are watching people on the fringe of their own more everyday lives.

We may or may not see our selves in some of these people and their behaviours, while others will inevitably be well beyond the purview of our own lives. My dilemma here is how much to reveal without spoiling the game for those who get to play.

The sights that first greet us in Room 217 – the face-cloth-covered woman in the bath, the couple asleep in the king-sized bed – establish our voyeur status. This is reinforced by the subsequent behaviour of those who come, bide a while, go and return, as we sit and watch from along one wall, because they are clearly alone in very private spaces.

A woman (Gabrielle Anwen) arrives in a state of high anticipation. Another (anon) slips out, taking cash from a wallet. A high-performing media guy (Gavin Rutherford) does kick-arse business on his cellphone. The bath woman (Carol Smith) mooches about in a bathrobe, suspicious of other people’s germs. The sleeping couple (Paul McLaughlin and Lucy Briant) emerge to begin a series of enigmatic and initially wordless actions and interactions that cannot help but intrigue …

As the hour unfolds their reasons for being there, and hints of who they are in their ‘real’ worlds, inexorably emerge. Nothing is predictable yet everything is recognisable. And true. Even a make-believe role-play has a real reason for being, although exactly what that is, is not explained. As for the carving knife in the freezer … Well there’s only so much a wall gets to see. The rest we have to invent for ourselves.

The performances – if that’s the word – are impeccable. Even as they share the space with each other, and us, the sense of separateness – of aloneness more often than not – is wondrously achieved. Humour and pathos, darkness and light, reality and deception meet and blend to cast a mesmerising spell.

This is a very special piece of truly intimate theatre that is well worth your making an effort to see.


Mary Anne Bourke February 11th, 2007

Yes, I’m still smiling when I think of what goes on in that HOTEL room. But first – what a breath-taking case of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ we've had here of late: doubting whether a show can be “original, cutting edge and risk taking” just because it’s got a good level of sponsorship, a sharp website and an upmarket scenario. Yeah, bring back the garret - and the hair shirt while you’re at it. Forget about the possibility that the style of promotion might even be totally in keeping with the subject matter of the show. So I saw HOTEL last night. I found it scintillating from the moment I walked into the Museum Hotel lobby (nb. a visit to the Ladies is worth half the price of admission on its own) and the twelve of us were escorted up in the lift to Room 217 where we saw this multi-narrative plait of characters going about their private lives. Yes, it was like being being that proverbial fly on the wall. By the end I felt like I’d experienced that profound thing - the pity and joy of humanity. There is that frisson of wonder as make-believe is brought so close to real life that it makes you apprehend real life with heightened senses. I did find a bit of an issue with sight lines (nosy neighbours getting in my line of sight) but that just proves I’m an abject voyeur. This kind of theatre throws up artistic challenges and possibilities like no other and they’ve been met with alacrity here. Go see.

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