Hotel [Expletive]

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Photo by Dru Sefton/Courtesy of Washington Shakespeare Company
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Editorial Review

Capital Fringe Festival review: ‘Hotel [Expletive]’

By Rachel Weiner
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At one point during “Hotel [Expletive],” you will be asked to take your clothes off, and you will be tempted, because there is no air-conditioning in this venue. But the game all-male cast from the Washington Shakespeare Company doesn’t really want to see you naked. They want you to see them naked, running around in circles screaming and getting whipped. There are some boring, confusing lulls, but in the end it’s hilarious and even a little profound.

Written in 1998 by famed experimental playwright Richard Foreman and directed by Christopher Henley (also playing the petulant Tony Turbo), the intentionally disorienting “Hotel” has no real plot but slides up against a couple of themes: fear of sex and fear of sappy theater.

A crew of four men and a woman tries to find the famous hotel where they can deal with “those sexual emotions that are getting us in such big trouble,” as Ken Pussy Puss (James T. Majewski) puts it. They are stymied at every turn by their own hesitations, other people’s selfishness and a militant director (Gabriel Swee) who stops any hope of action, dramatic or otherwise.

It’s pretty obvious early on where this is going (which is to say, nowhere), leading to some mid-play drag. The sexual tension among Majewski, Julia Jacobson (Jay Hardee, managing to play a nymphomaniac woman without misogyny) and Tommy Tuttle (William Hayes) helps things over the hump.

As they try and fail to find their own fulfillment, the characters express fear that their play is turning into a sappy, less provocative production, “Hotel Beautiful Roses.” The play tries “desperately to hold on to its proper and genuine self — in the face of such terrible adversity.”

That struggle applies pretty well to the ever-more-mature Fringe Festival. Those looking for a more authentically “fringe” experience will find it here. In its semi-comprehensible shock-and-awe, “Hotel” is retro comfort of the highest caliber.

If it isn’t obvious, this play is not for children or prudish adults.