Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter wrote The Hothouse relatively early in his career – it's roughly contemporaneous with The Birthday Party. After that play was poorly received, however, he shelved it for nearly two decades. When it was finally published and performed in 1980, The Hothouse quickly established itself as one of his most unique and prophetic works.
Earlier this summer, the West End's Trafalgar Studios launched a star-studded production of the play to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, it's scheduled to wrap up at the beginning of next month – so interested parties don't have long left to check into hotel accommodation in London and book tickets for one of the remaining performances.
The Hothouse tells the story of a shambolic sanitorium, apparently cut off from the outside world, where a megalomaniacal director – played here by the legendary Simon Russell Beale – rules over a sycophantic staff and an intimidated host of inmates.
After a murder takes place on Christmas day, the director enlists the help of a lackey played by John Simm – whom audiences should recognise from television appearances in Life on Mars and Doctor Who – to launch an investigation into the crime. However, his assistance is more duplicitous than he first appears and a series of gruesome twists ensue.
Time Out London gave the production a glowing review, describing it as "a pleasingly deranged, Orton-esque hybrid of old fashioned English farce and Pinter's brutal '80s satires", while the Guardian's appraisal commented on the text's "eerily prophetic" qualities. By all accounts, The Hothouse is no less powerful than some of the better known installments in Pinter's oeuvre such as The Dumb Waiter and The Caretaker.
Trafalgar Studios – formerly the Whitehall Theatre – should prove easy to find for those staying in central London. The nearest London Underground stops are Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster, each of which is in walking distance of the venue.