The Hotel Plays: A review

By Laurie Scarborough

Melissa Haiden stars in the South African debut of Tennessee Williams’ The Hotel Plays, a double bill of Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen and Green Eyes.

Upon arrival you receive a key from a mysterious bell-boy that gains you access to one of two rooms in the Vineyard Hotel’s Historic Wing. The first room is green, a symbol of envy, and perhaps new beginnings. The audience sits inside the bedroom and watches two newly-weds in New Orleans dramatically unravel. The play was Williams’ reaction to the Vietnam War and the couple’s explosive arguing mirrors the battle of soldiers. Melissa Haiden stars as the new bride, while Stephen Jubber is the husband.

Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen depicts the desperate hopelessness of a couple in New York. This play takes place in a blue room, perhaps a symbol of the deep depressive despair that the couple experience. Starring Nicole Franco and Marcel Meyer, the audience watches as the couple each recite a monologue about their differing points of anguish.

Because the plays take place inside a hotel room, and the action centres, for the most part, around a large four-poster bed, the plays are incredibly intimate, bordering on voyeurism. This is only enhanced by the very authentic and honest performances of all the cast members – you really feel like you’re a fly on the wall.

Not only is this an evening of fine theatre, but also of fine dining. The plays separate the courses of a Fleur du Cap wine-paired three-course meal, prepared by the chef at the Vineyard Hotel. Because of this, tickets are fairly expensive at R650 per person, but if you’re a fan of drama and delicious food then this is a production to see.

The play opens tonight, 30 July, and shows until 20 August. To book email hotelplays@vineyard.co.za.

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