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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

The Hotel

The Invisible Dot

Venue: The Hotel, Queen Street - Meet at Assembly Rooms George Street


Low Down

The Hotel is one of those experiences that is, what you make of it. It is not for me to write what happens, because every single person’s experience will be different depending on what path or journey they take around the hotel.

Experience the worst Hotel in the world courtesy of a bunch of Edinburgh comics, playing hotel workers in their down time.



Recently site specific on promenade work has been becoming more and more popular and very few productions hit the nail on the head completely. In fact Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death probably sets the bar for the quality work should maintain to match. The Hotel does not quite meet that quality, but it must be considered as something slightly different as it employ’s comics to run the hotel rather than pure actors. 

The Hotel has a great deal of potential to deliver much more than it already does. It works as a non linear piece as the audience who act as hotel guests as allowed to roam freely around the entire hotel, however the show uses a narrative involving the Hotel’s owner as a vehicle to remove audience members from the building. If this is to be used in this way it would be helpful or indeed entertaining to see a vein of narrative in line with the owner running through the entire show. There are elements of it when you encounter him on the stairs with a hotel employee, but unfortunately that is where it ends. Indeed there is a room at the top of the hotel that has the potential to offer up all sorts of story threads but instead the audience are just left to observe it which is interesting but is a missed opportunity. If this was explored a little more and if audiences were able to pick up fragments of the narrative thread along the way depending where they were during the production, it would feel less orchestrated as they leave. In saying this, the actors on every floor were excellent at directing you to places you may not have encountered and definitely helped to frame the experience.

It is important when experiencing work like The Hotel that you do not stick with audience members you attend with, but rather venture out on your own for a much more fulfilling experience. There is a lot to see in The Hotel and again do not make the mistake of staying too long in one place as it will mean you might miss something else even more interesting. Comics play the hotels characters and there are many discoveries to be made and given the experience is much more intriguing blind, it is not my place as a reviewer to tell you what you might see, but leave you to discover it for yourselves. The kitchen however is not to be missed and the restaurant can be an interesting experience.  There is a processing room and this is perhaps the most innovative of the creations in the hotel. Perhaps two of these would be beneficial so more people could feed through this section in a shorter space of time and experience more of the process.

A little more time in the Hotel would also benefit audience members who may take a little longer to come around to how the concept works, although of course the comics have to get back to their own shows. In fact someone told me that one individual managed to get past the door, came in and thought it was a real hotel.

The space itself has clearly been mapped out very well and the attention to detail from set designer Becs Andrews is second to none down to the pictures on the walls listing who is yet to stay in the hotel, ie Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley etc..the menus in the restaurant and the quirky lost and found. The Hotel does rely on the fact that you will interact with the comics to make your own journey.  A brilliant concept by Mark Watson, it is clear a great deal of work has gone in to creating this environment and the characters within it, and on that note alone it is to be highly commended. Ambitious and starring 20 cast members, The Hotel is an exciting addition to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009.