Archive

‘L’Hotel’ has luxury elements, but falls short on depth | TribLIVE.com
Theater & Arts

‘L’Hotel’ has luxury elements, but falls short on depth

The premise couldn’t be more promising: Assemble six high-maintenance superstars from the past two centuries, put them in a room together and watch the fireworks explode.

That’s what playwright Ed Dixon and director Ted Pappas set out to do in “L’Hotel,” which is having its world premiere with Pittsburgh Public Theater.

And what a group of amusingly self-centered, opinionated and outspoken divas they are — novelist Victor Hugo, dance innovator Isadora Duncan, playwright Oscar Wilde, opera composer Gioachino Rossini, actress Sarah Bernhardt and rock star Jim Morrison.

They have all settled into a slightly past-its-prime hotel on the outskirts of Paris. Unable to leave, they pass their days feuding, trysting, trading witty quips and insults and harassing the single overworked waiter who serves them breakfast.

Scenic designer James Noone and lighting designer Kirk Bookman have given these cultural icons a truly opulent art nouveau setting in which they squabble and opine. an ornate, curving stairway is perfect for making grand entrances, and there’s plenty of room for them to take center stage. David C. Woolard has decked them out in detailed, elegant costumes that augment character and place them in their proper periods — from Bernhardt’s sumptuous ball gown to Morrison’s leather britches.

Promotional materials describe “L’Hotel” as a farce, and the action begins with the frantic waiter dashing about to prepare the dining room for his entitled charges.

A cast of first-rate actors does a superior job of providing specific details and delivery as they channel their characters. Sam Tsoutsouvas makes a pleasantly grumpy Hugo. Tony Triano’s slightly dim Rossini is an amusingly clueless foil for others’ jibes. Brent Harris’ Wilde is properly superior and glib. Daniel Hartley plays the oversexed, unruly Morrison with a properly relaxed flair. Kati Brazda’s Duncan and Deanne Lorette’s Bernhardt fit right in with their outspoken observations and fervor.

Evan Zes is unfailingly charming as The Waiter.

Having introduced us to these flamboyant, articulate characters and given them a terrific environment, where “L’Hotel” falls short is in giving them something meaningful to do.

The second half of the play takes a dark turn as the luminaries ponder serious philosophical questions about the power and meaning of art and artistic immortality.

What action there is revolves around a silly, highly implausible scheme that involves a young woman, played with proper fragility by Erica Cuenca. If successful, one guest may be able to leave the hotel. But there’s little question about who will get the exit pass.

Pappas and Dixon have been working on this script for a number of years. It’s already an amusing evening of theater with vivid characters and clever dialogue.

Now that they’ve had a chance to see what it looks like on stage, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.