Monday, 9 March 2015

Review: The Armour at the Langham Hotel



The Armour
Langham Hotel
Reviewed on Friday 6th March 2015
★★★

Defibrillator have returned to the Langham Hotel where they are once again showcasing site specific theatre at its very best. Last year I was hugely impressed with the company's unique staging of three Tennessee Williams plays, each set and performed in a stunning hotel room.

One year later Defibrillator are premiering three new short plays by Ben Ellis to celebrate the Langham's 150th anniversary. The three pieces are set in 2015, 1973 and 1871, cleverly intertwining as they are set over the Langham’s lifetime with some smart references. 

Throughout the evening we come face to face with a stroppy pop star on a comeback tour, a successful couple in a radio studio (when the Langham was occupied by the BBC) as well as Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie as they seek refuge whilst in exile from France.

Ellis clearly knows his stuff; his writing is smart but more could be done to engage his audience further. The Armour is historically fascinating but the pieces aren't yet as solid and as engrossing as they could be. I didn't find the journey as exciting as last year's The Hotel Plays which surprised throughout; however, The Armour is impressively different, taking us beyond the hotel room.

In London we are spoilt with an array of small theatres which offer a more personal experience for audiences; however, nothing is more intimate that sharing a small room in a hotel with two actors. The performance of the night comes from Siubhan Harrison who brings depth and intensity, pitching the mood and intimacy exquisitely. Elsewhere one or two performances are perhaps a little too 'theatrical' and over the top for such a small space where big stage acting isn't necessary. 

Directed by James Hillier with fluidity and care, The Armour provides an incredible theatrical experience. The Langham Hotel is a glorious venue, adding glamour and excitement to one of the most effective site-specific productions I have ever seen.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Armour runs at the Langham Hotel until 6th April 2015.
Please visit www.defibrillatortheatre.com for info and tickets.

Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton

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