Reviewed by Barking Hound
Like Somerset Maughan, long time guest of Singapore’s Raffles Hotel I too “have seen it”. My view was from the audience attending Wild Rice’s “Hotel” Oz Asia’s acclaimed theatre production from Singapore. A 5 hour epic in 2 parts over 2 nights ‘Hotel presents 100 years of Singaporean history through the interactions of people in a luxury hotel (not unlike Raffles).
First staged in 2015 “Hotel” is directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei and written by Alfian Sa’atand Marcia Vanderstraaten. 14 actors play almost 100 roles speaking 9 (mostly English) languages. From a British colony established in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles to a soverign nation in 1905 to the present once 100% Malcuy now. 15% Malcuy. A linear history in 11 scenes at 10 year intervals each in a new room with different characters all in the same hotel. Multimedia projections wallpaper and simple set changes move the audience from room to room. Old newsreels of world events provide a passage of time and historical context. A choreographed act to the music of the era accompanies the opening of each 20 minuet scene.
In a past colonial world “Hotel” explores the idea of Nationhood in a country where the majority of the population are not indigenous. Asking what our responsibilities as global citizens and what sort of a society do we want?
The audience reminded “we all came from our mother’s birth canal.” Set in a hotel, home is an illusion, we are all members of a global community travelling to the same inevitable destination.
With our similar colonial history the experiences of the characters resonate with our own. From the brightest, hilarious and outrageous to the darkest and most profound. Hotel is an emotional journey. Entertained and challenged the audience is finally invited to “please come again”. But can we ever really leave? Welcome to “Hotel”.