nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
October 1, 2010
I primarily think of the theatre as a social event, something experienced with others, other audience members, often friends, a collective group experience. Which is what makes Dominic Huber's Hotel Savoy so odd—throughout your time in the piece, you encounter a lot of characters in the hotel, but only briefly do you pass by other audience members, ephemerally, as if they're not even there.
The experience of Hotel Savoy is simple: you wait for your allotted appointment time in the vestibule, and then are told to wait in the empty hotel lobby. Soon a bellhop appears and takes you up to a room. And another room, and another. One of the rooms is full of people, most are empty. Some are well appointed, others are literally falling apart. And throughout you encounter a handful of hotel employees and guests, who guide you through the journey.
The Goethe Institut has been amazingly well transformed into the aging hotel. Offices have been divided into Spartan hotel rooms and gorgeous rooms, full of architectural detail, have been distorted into construction zones. The cast members I encountered were all quite friendly and welcoming, asking me about my stay in the hotel, what I thought of the space, etc. It was quite easy to interact with all of them, though I nearly always felt I was playing the role of "cooperative audience member" (easy to fall into at interactive theatre events). Only once did I feel like I was actually experiencing a real conversation, with the incredibly grounded and true-to-life bartender (there was no program, so I can't tell you her name).
I certainly enjoyed my time at the Hotel Savoy, due to the uniqueness of the experience, but I'm not quite sure what I was meant to feel. It certainly wasn't a creepy, Shining-like experience, despite the emptiness and apparent disrepair of some of the rooms. I'd certainly recommend the show to someone looking to experience something new (and tickets are going fast), but with little plot to speak of, it's probably not for everybody.