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Hotel Medea – An Unusual Overnight Play On A Boat

By
Published 28 July 2010

Hotel Medea defies categorization. The work incorporates performance art, dance, theatre and audience participation to create a bizarre and surreal journey through the ancient myth of Jason and The Golden Fleece.

Though Hotel Medea is based on the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece it adapts the story in the latter half of the performance to a more modern context and involves elements of satire to try and make the meaning of the myth work in a modern setting.

Several days after watching it though, the meaning remains elusive, but Hotel Medea is more about the experience than the meaning. The piece is unique, baffling, pretentious, demanding, fun, inclusive, wrapped up in one word: contradictory.

Hotel Medea starts at midnight with a short boat ride from The O2 in North Greenwich to an abandoned warehouse on the other side of the Thames where the performance unfolds over the next five and a half hours.

Due to the length and the start time (11pm) it is truly not a piece of work for those who aren’t prepared to commit to the whole thing and be willing to participate where necessary!

It is possible to just buy a ticket for the first hour that mainly focuses on dance and ritual as a means of telling the first part of the Golden Fleece myth and ends at 1:30am

I would personally recommend that most people only aim to go for this first part as the rest of the play takes several tangents and relies less on direct audience participation.  Basically, the first part is much more focused on fun and community while the next four hours constitute a dark and exhausting ride into the avant-garde.

The audience is frequently called upon to interact with the piece and perform small gestures with the cast.  For the most part this is fairly simple stuff, being tucked into bed, donning a wig and pretending to be a woman or shaking hands with a mock politician (No, I don’t know how these things fit together).  But sometimes it means dancing and singing in bizarre rituals that are not to everyone’s, including my own, taste.

Several times throughout the performance I began to question the need for Hotel Medea to be at night and that long, though by the end the cast has done enough to just about justify the length.

Why it is overnight though, remains a rather puzzling question. The vast majority of the performance takes place indoors, thereby removing any interaction with the night itself.  It could just as easily be taking place with a sweltering summer heat outside.

I wouldn’t care to venture an interpretation and would be suspicious of anyone that did considering the frazzled state of mind most people were in throughout. All I would say is that any meaning seems to reside in the participation itself. The twists and turns the play takes; from frenzied dance rituals, to a satire of electioneering to the realm of the female victim are seemingly designed to take you on a tour of the role of the hidden witness, the indifferent and those who are willing to take part and let go of their pre-conceptions. Whether or not this adds up to any grander meaning is entirely up to the audience.

For those insomniacs with a die-hard interest in the avant-garde world of theatre, dance and performance art, taking the plunge with Hotel Medea would undoubtedly prove highly worthwhile.  For those with more conventional taste but willing to take the plunge, be prepared for a long night that will either prove revelatory or a confirmation of George Harrison’s simple, yet often true dismissal of the avant-garde: “A’vant-garde a clue.”

Hotel Medea
Performance Dates: Fridays and Saturdays from 16th July till 14th August
Start time: 11pm
Running time: 2.5 hours or 5.5 hours

Ticket Prices: £15 (until 1:30am) or £28.50 (full overnight ticket – includes refreshments and breakfast)
Box Office: 020 7503 1646/ www.arcolatheatre.com


  • guest

    don’t go, i spent the night wishing in was in my bed. It s a very childish interpretation at the wrong time of the day.