Theatre Review: The Hothouse

Oh, people. There’s an obscure Pinter play on stage right now at the Antaeus Theatre! What does this mean for you? Well, it depends on who you are. If you would call yourself anything less than a theatre enthusiast, if you don’t proudly wear a theatre geek badge, you can quite simply move on. This show is not for you. If I had you at “obscure Pinter play” keep reading! 

Harold Pinter wroteThe Hothouse, a tragicomedy, in 1958 (right after better known to us- The Birthday Party) and shelved until he picked it back up in 1979. It opened in 1980 in London. Now, I’ll be honest, there’s a reason it’s still obscure. It’s not his best. But if you are a Pinter fan, it’s not to be missed. The stakes only go up when it’s the Antaeus Theatre that is taking on the task. Really Angelinos, if you value classical theatre, this is the theatre you should attend… regularly. If you have an interest in classical theatre, this is where you want to explore it. I can’t say enough good things about my experiences at this theatre over the years. And they don’t disappoint, even with obscure Pinter.

The play opens on a Christmas day at a psychiatric hospital with a whole lot going wrong. Patient 6457 has died and another patient 6459 just gave birth. Both items are problematic for the director whom we quickly understand is inept and potentially corrupt. It’s also an interesting issue/opportunity for his obviously shifty and potentially dangerous staff. There are some shenanigans going on at the ‘ole mental hospital. This is clear from the get-go.

If you have lingering curiosity around the thought process that lead to the mounting of this play, I’ll be more blunt. When you consider the underlying themes, it’s crystal clear. We have a tyrannical/authoritarian leader who is losing his ability to clearly think through anything let alone a crisis. He lies and gets confused. He berates his staff, pitting them against each other and they scramble and scheme to position themselves to overtake each other…. and inevitably him. So, yeah, that’s why it’s on stage now.

This play has style. The language is rich. The acting is superb. And you’ll laugh consistently all the way through. Huh, really? Yes… certainly if you are blessed to be seated with an engaged audience, that always helps. It’s a dark comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. But the play isn’t perfect. It drags at times, even though it’s only 2 hours with a 10 minute intermission. You don’t have the benefit of a flashy set. And… it’s not Pinter’s best. He did shelve it, after all. He would probably agree if he were here today. I’d say the opportunity seeing such a gifted cast (although, there are 2 casts. You know this, right?) is reason enough to get to the theatre, if you are a believer that theatre is art. This cast, this production, is art. It just isn’t easy art. You’ll have to work for it a bit.

Know thy self. If this is up your alley, don’t miss it. I really completely enjoyed it and if there were more hours in the day I’d go see it again with the other cast. I’d bet money they are just as brilliant and yet, different, as all actors are. LA! This is your opportunity.

I didn’t sprinkle the much deserved recognition throughout, so I’ll do it here:

I saw the Pelican group of actors: Josh Clark, Leo Marks, Melanie Lora, Steve Hofvendahl, Adrian laTourelle, John Bobek, Gregory Itzin

Director: Nike Doukas

Scenic Designer: Se Hyun Oh

Costume Designer: Julie Keen

Lighting Designer: Ginerva Lombardo

Sound Designer: Jeff Gardner

The Hothouse

Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center,

110 E. Broadway, Glendale.

Thurs-Sat 8PM, Sun 2 PM

Through March 11th

tickets: www.antaeus.org (starting at $30)

actor schedule:

http://antaeus.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Hothouse-Master-Schedule-V.3.pdf

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