Fri 4th October - Sat 5th October & Weds 9th October - Sat 12th October 1974
Directed by Mo Burness
A hotel in Amsterdam is the venue for a weekend gathering of six actor friends who are escaping the malign influence of their bullying director.
John Osborne won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play when this drama was first performed in 1968. A hotel in Amsterdam is the venue for a weekend gathering of six actor friends, who are escaping the malign influence of their bullying director, KL. Alone together, the fragility of their relationships gradually becomes clear. As with Beckett's Godot, KL's haunting absence allows the characters to slowly reveal their desperation while they sit around drinking and engaging in the genteel repartee which covers their angst.
This play was staged under Bench Theatre's original company name of Theatre Union, at their theatre in West Street. It was actually the building in West Street, Havant where most of the Company's early plays were staged, which was called the Bench Theatre (after its prior use as a magistrates' court). The company's name was changed gradually by word of mouth and general usage between the years 1973 - 1977 when reviewers, and then members themselves, gradually stopped referring to Theatre Union and started calling the company of players 'Bench Theatre'. The new Company name of Bench Theatre was adopted in to all the promotional literature after they moved from the old theatre (which had been their home for nearly 7 years) in to the Old Town Hall building in East Street.
|Stage Manager||Tim Mahoney|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Brian Sweatman|
The Hotel in Amsterdam is a statement about an existing emotional situation rather that a developing action. Three couples are drawn together in their bid for sanctuary from KL, the film director who dominates each of their lives. Their escape route ends at the hotel in Amsterdam; a refuge in which they plan to enjoy at least one free weekend.
As they relax together, amity and amiability reign; the deflect all hostilities towards the absent KL. They are a clique, revelling (probably with an unwanted self-consciousness induced by the escapist weekend) in their ability to get on together. Their talk, quite incidentally, fills out the background shared by these six refugees and substantively it suggests the function of KL himself as the gravitational force keeping his underlings in their common orbit.
We the eavesdroppers on their first and last evenings in Amsterdam are left to wonder whether the camaraderie survives the climax of the play.
John Osborne's play 'The Hotel in Amsterdam' is not everyone's cup of tea. But the hotel drawing room setting was ideal for the cosy Havant Bench Theatre, where the audience has the illusion of eavesdropping on a prolonged private conversation which rarely merited the adjective 'sparkling'. Three couples in the film world take themselves off to Amsterdam in a clandestine bid to shake off the shackles of their tyrant director. Their antipathy towards him is the theme that binds the dialogue together. The cast laboured hard to make something of lines often reminiscent of the physiological small-talk in a gynaecologist's waiting room. In a static situation of the kind portrayed it is a major problem to establish the identity of each character firmly in the minds of the audience.
Brian Montefiore, as an alcoholic script writer, and Jen Jones, who strongly portrayed Annie, kept the play moving and were well supported by Benita Oakley, Ian Nelson, Derek Cusdin and Eve Moore. Breaking into the rather forced conviviality of the group, Julie Morgan provided a much needed diversion as the girl out of her depth but determined to make the most of her inadequacies. Mo Burness is the producer. The play continues tonight and from Wednesday to Saturday next week.
The News, 5th October 1974