CUPPERS: Room 253 (Balliol)

Wed 9th November 2011

reviews

Hannah Blyth

at 11:38 on 10th Nov 2011

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Written and directed by Angus Hawkin, ‘Room 253’ focuses on one hotel room through a series of nights and inhabitants, exposing the somewhat sordid nature of the characters’ lives. The play opened with a wonderful performance by Tom Bird as George, a slightly bemused husband to the unhappy Erica (played by Emily Troup), a woman who desires more romance in their marriage. George’s reply, “we could have children” perfectly encapsulated the divergence between the two. What was questionable however, was Erica’s desire to have a weekend away somewhere special when clearly the characters were currently staying in a hotel. This slightly odd reasoning for couples to be within the hotel continued with the final pair comprising of the ex-wife of a man who had just slept with a prostitute and the mother of the said prostitute - an odd combination to be going away together.

Despite this rather far-fetched quality, the idea was interesting though it must be questioned how much the writer knew about the psychology of adultery as it was treated superficially with Erica writing her number on a piece of paper to leave in the hotel room, ready to meet whoever replies. Indeed, where sexual tension ought to have existed between Erica and Sam (played by Illias Thoms) as they met for a casual night’s romp, there was a clear lack of direction as the pair stood awkwardly facing the audience.

The sparse use of lighting and sound perhaps fitted with the anonymity of a hotel environment, a device which was made the most of in scene changes as the maid (Lydia Hehir) came and cleaned the room, preparing it for the next couple in a method that was both fitting and intelligent. However, the attempt at moral comment with which the play ended in which the maid and her husband walked away together, hand in hand, despairing of the characters who have visited the room seemed somewhat contrived though perhaps within the limited time allowed the performance provided an adequate ending.

Characters were well played with a good performance by Megan Birch as the family orientated, nervous prostitute Harriet with some of the other female parts being liable to fall flat at times.

Overall, ‘Room 253’ was an interesting performance though one which could make the most of further development of plot and allow the space for characters to really be substantially developed.

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