The story is a new one, yet it’s as old as telling tales itself. Boy meets girl in the aftermath of conflict. They are separated, come together in another place at another time, are separated yet again, meet again… Songs From a Hotel Bedroom is music theatre in its widest sense, with the stage numbers of Kurt Weill punctuating the action and with the two main characters – chanteuse Angélique and songwriter Dan – having tango dancers as alter-egos shadowing their passion.
Weill’s lyricists were a starry bunch – Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash and Maxwell Anderson among them. Peter Rowe’s linking dialogue fits th new yet old story very well and director/choreographer Kate Flatt welds the two couples into something more disturbing than a mere decorative echoing. Chloe Lamford’s sets move seamlessly between a succession of slightly sordid hotel bedrooms to a recording studio and a New York nightclub while the seven-strong band is both a backdrop to the forestage action and an integral part of its drama.
Frances Ruffelle is moving as the French girl trying to pick up her life after the traumas of Occupation and Libération. She makes much of probably Weill’s best-known composition from his Broadway years – “September Song”. Tara Pilbrow is her dancing reflection and perhaps also an illumination of her troubled soul. Nigel Richards plays Dan with the right sense of burning ambition, something which consumes as well as illuminates. Amir Giles suggests the potential for menace and selfishness as well as the controlled skill underlining both these characters.