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Review of Heartbreak Hotel at The Jetty, Greenwich Peninsula

Heartbreak HotelThere’s a germ of an idea in “Heartbreak Hotel”. In fact there’s the germ of two or three ideas – and that’s the problem. Billed as “immersive theatre” and housed in a complex of shipping containers perched on the Thames on the Greenwich Peninsula, the idea is that you “check in” to the hotel and then are guided around various hotel rooms where the action takes place. This is very much in the same vein as “The Armour” which was staged at the Langham Hotel earlier this year but I feel more successfully as it had a cohesive theme holding it together. “Heartbreak Hotel” has a theme but it’s not very cohesive.

After check-in we were given name-badges and a hostess from the “A.C.H.E.” programme explained what would be happening. A.C.H.E. stands for “Achieving Heartfelt Creative Experiences” although nothing in the evening totally achieved a creative experience and I really don’t know why the production needed to use this secondary, superfluous idea to frame the production. The hostess then divided us into groups and we were led into a typical low-budget hotel room where a young couple entered and acted out an interesting scene about a relationship that was obviously in trouble. We were then shunted from room to room where various scenarios took place – a worried hotel owner and the singer he fell in love with and a cocaine snorting man cheating on his wife with a dominatrix. Once or twice the stories overlapped and I would have welcomed more of that but it wasn’t followed up. Then totally out of the blue we were taken to what looked like an antique clothes shop where a camp character led us in a disco sing-a-long complete with flashing disco lights – maybe that was the “immersive” part! After a scene where the man from A.C.H.E. seduced a chambermaid and the dominatrix reappeared to tell us to close our eyes and make a wish (all part of the “A.C.H.E. programme) we were led onto the roof where the man from A.C.H.E. made a speech – and then it was all over leaving most of the audience a bit bemused as if there was unfinished business and there was more to come – but there wasn’t and we were on our way out through the fairground paraphernalia scattered around the site to add to the seedy seaside theme – I guess!

Whilst I applaud Zebedee Productions who are a young production company specialising in “immersive theatrical experiences” for their attempt at doing something out of the ordinary, I feel that “Heartbreak Hotel” just didn’t come together as a whole. The acting from the young cast was a little uneven but special mention must go to Will Harrison-Wallace as “Roger” the hotel owner and Natalia Campbell as “Foxy” the dominatrix.
2 gold stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Welcome to Heartbreak Hotel, a utopia for lost souls and broken hearts. Once a diamond on the English coastline, now as dilapidated and mysterious as the characters within its walls.

This summer, The Jetty – London’s most exciting new riverside arts venue – is transformed into Heartbreak Hotel, an intricately designed purpose built structure where the audience check-in to an immersive and unique theatre event.


Tuesday – Sunday 6.30pm/7.30pm/8.30pm/9.30pm

Monday 27th July 2015


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