Thursday, 11 June 2015

Review: Heartbreak Hotel at The Jetty – Greenwich Peninsula

Heartbreak Hotel
The Jetty – Greenwich Peninsula
Reviewed on Tuesday 9th June 2015

Nobody can accuse the creators of Heartbreak Hotel at The Jetty in Greenwich of not committing; this immersive promenade theatre show has certainly been thoroughly executed in terms of design and concept. Arriving at The Jetty and discovering Waltzer and Dodgem seating, a fairground strength test, a fortune teller, a reception and a check-in desk before even stepping into the show proper lets visitors know that no stone has been left unturned, detail-wise. 

Once inside the hotel, audiences are treated to six locations in which one or more scenes take place, with four separate threads of a story being told. The rooms in the hotel have been thoughtfully designed and executed and the whole piece flows well, with the timing timed to the second.

Impressive stuff, with the actors and stage management working in harmony to create a flawlessly executed show; if you're craving an unusual theatrical experience, you should definitely get a ticket.

The problem with the piece, though, is not the execution but the conception. Audiences are told they're on the 'ACHE' programme: a programme designed to hurt our hearts so we can go on to love more fully and completely. This sounds good. I'd like to be hurt. I'd like to feel something, anything, during the course of the show. I didn't. I was impressed by Carla Goodman's impeccable design for each room and the vignettes were generally well acted (Ashley Campbell's gurning Alfred was particularly convincing) but with our 'tour' of the hotel complete, I exited the roof terrace not only cold (in every sense) but a little bemused.

My companion and I debated afterwards whether our bemusement was because we lacked intellect. Our conclusion: it wasn't our intellect that was lacking, but writer Lucy Benson-Brown's ability to convincingly and coherently tell a compelling story. Managing Mayhem and Zebedee Productions have gone to great lengths to source the dodgem seats, to create the vertical bed and to ensure split-second timing, but the creative team seem to have misplaced their primary objective. 

Heartbreak Hotel is entertaining. It's amusing. But for all the talk of giving us an emotional experience, that's exactly the thing that it lacked.

Reviewed by Jody Tranter

Heartbreak Hotel runs at The Jetty, Greenwich Peninsula, London, SE10 0FL.
Please visit for information.

Photo Credit: Ben Hughes

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