Review Round-up: Critics warm to Hothouse
Pinter's The Hothouse is set on Christmas day in a mental institution where Roote (Russell Beale), a tyrannical leader, abuses his patients in a darkly comic play about unchecked authority figures.
The Hothouse runs at the Trafalgar Studios until 3 August 2013.
...Jamie Lloyd's high-energy Trafalgar Transformed season continues with an outrageously funny production... Simon Russell Beale as "Archie" Roote, the boss, is straining - every eye-muscle bulging... slyly understated John Simm, as his too-well-informed assistant, Gibbs… Interestingly, and not necessarily to the play's advantage, Lloyd and his actors have re-invented Pinter as Joe Orton… Russell Beale gives an astonishing technical performance of manic vulnerability and eye-popping power lust… It's a hilarious dissection of power play tactics… The vivid, quirky language is brilliantly despatched by Russell Beale… Clive Rowe as a grovelling under-staffer … and Christopher Timothy as the all too plausibly ridiculous man from the ministry...
…It’s a fascinating piece that proves both menacing and hilarious. But Jamie Lloyd’s fine production rarely relaxes its hold… And an outstanding cast do the piece proud… Simon Russell Beale delivers a tour de force… It’s a gloriously amusing and disconcerting turn… John Simm proves the perfect foil as the apparently bland and solicitous subordinate… There are cracking supporting performances, too, from Indira Varma as the institution’s femme fatale, John Heffernan as an insolent underling, and Harry Melling as an excitable new recruit… It’s a consistently gripping production of a piece in which Kafka seems to shake hands with Monty Python.
…richly pleasurable and boundlessly funny as Jamie Lloyd's new production of this early Pinter play is, I feel it misses something of its chilling political undertow... It is also a biliously funny play and the casting of Simon Russell Beale as Roote ensures that the laughs come thick and fast. He is hilarious… I laughed incessantly at Russell Beale's performance but his Roote seems to be in a state of incipient collapse… John Simm, however, is flawless as the conniving… And there is a wealth of fine supporting performances… like the rest of the audience, I found myself roaring at moments… It is also good, in Lloyd's production, to see Pinter played with such zip and zest...
This revival of Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse brims with mischief and whimsy... it seems more like something that could have been created by Joe Orton, and Simon Russell Beale leads an impressive cast in a feverish black comedy that edges towards pantomime… He revels in the character’s pomposity and goggling absurdity, though the performance is not among this golden actor’s best... the production’s greatest pleasures derive from two younger talents… John Simm... It’s a contained performance, succinctly malign…If you like Pinter done with snarling political bite, this isn’t the production for you, but it is a very enjoyable account of a play that can seem elusive.
… Simon Russell Beale’s performance in Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse is grossly over-comedic… This is a lazy effort from Mr Russell Beale… This is not an actor interpreting and portraying a character. He cartoons it… Mr Russell Beale seems interested only in playing himself and bagging a few laughs… John Simm does well as Roote’s coldly efficient sidekick, Gibbs, and the show is certainly pacy and frequently watchable… Director Jamie Lloyd treats it more like a piece of Joe Orton farce than a work of cold and all-too-truthful satire. Perhaps he is to blame… Clive Rowe makes a brief appearance as Tubb the handyman, but he grins as though he is appearing in pantomime… But, really, this could be so much better, so much more chilling.