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Review: The Last Hotel ****

Michael Cox reviews a production 'with much to be admired and enjoyed'.

One usually sees a new Enda Walsh piece at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh festivals. And in truth, as a small play with four actors, The Last Hotel would probably fit perfectly fine in the Traverse Two space.

And yet, expanded into an opera with Donnacha Dennehy, The Last Hotel becomes a far larger affair, a rich experience that is given much more emotional heft.

Three people have agreed to meet at a mid-class hotel. The Woman is clearly upper-middle class whereas the Husband and Wife are much lower on the social pecking order. How do they know each other? Why have they come together? Why does the Woman so badly want to ‘rehearse’?

Those who know the work of Walsh will know that things aren’t necessarily what they seem and that events can go down some sinister paths: this tale is no different, but to give anymore information (even if the programme has an unnecessary synopsis) would be doing the work a disservice.

The production is wonderfully executed in every department. It is well staged, designed and performed. Walsh’s story is quite interesting, even if the characters (particularly the Wife and the silent Caretaker) could be given a bit more meat.

But it is Dennehy’s music that does the most work: musical inflections are far more telling in who these characters are and what they are thinking than anything Walsh or the performers give, but with the combined excellence in all factors the results are at times spellbinding.

Due to its dark nature, this may not be to everyone’s taste. However, The Last Hotel is an impressive production filled with much to be admired and enjoyed.

The Last Hotel is part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and performs at the Royal Lyceum at 2000 until August 12, 2015. It then tours.

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