Writer: Conor Duffy
Directors: Conor Duffy and Angelene Milne
Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne
Head Above Water Theatre Company presents Hound’s Hotel with admirable enthusiasm in The Loft, as part of the Galway Fringe Festival 2017. The play embraces a number of genres: horror, farce and slapstick to name a few. A cast of eleven bring this action-filled over-the-top comedy to life with commitment and remarkable pace.
The story is based on familiar tropes, a shambolic hotel, a blizzard which means no one can leave, and the arrival of a shifty character with an alarming propensity for changing his appearance. Caricatures abound, there is the snooty manager who tries to hold it all together, the camp bellboy (well played by Jordan Begley), the slovenly, chain-smoking receptionist, the demented (nutty) professor and his mad non-inventions. The final guest we meet is the lascivious Madame, with an unfortunate slave in tow, who has designs on the reluctant bellboy. Madame is the first to fall victim to the murderer, with screams off-stage announcing her savage demise. When our sleuth finally arrives, a Sherlock Holmes look-alike, this murder mystery looks like it might be solved but in pantomime style he fails to see what is right there in front of his nose.
The play packs a lot of action into its hour long run. Many die. We learn that the hairy killer’s motivation is revenge for his rejection by women; hence all the women meet their deaths rather too quickly. The pace is ratcheted up another notch by the arrival of the manic gym bunnies and their guru, from the back of the theatre space. In fact there are lots of comings and goings from all sides of the space, and a small but effective amount of audience interaction. The lighting, by Conor Burnell, is excellent and really ramps up the atmosphere at times. While there are plenty of chuckles to be had, the script itself could benefit from being tightened up. Some of the more clichéd characters such as the professor and the sleuth are perhaps over-developed at the expense of others (the receptionist; the Madame; her ‘bitch’). Enthusiastic and committed performances from all ensure a light-hearted and enjoyable hour’s entertainment.
Runs until 22nd July 2017 | Image: Michael Nolan