Tag Archives: The Print Room at The Coronet

The Open House – 4 Stars


The Open House

Print Room at The Coronet

Reviewed – 25th January 2018


“cutting remarks are constantly crossing the line between sarcastic quips and genuine cruelty”


Will Eno’s play may be titled ‘The Open House’ but as soon as the lights go up it feels like anything but. The tense atmosphere where every question feels like a landmine is recognisable to anyone who’s ever suffered through a family gathering. “Why are we like this?” asks the nameless daughter repeatedly, but there is no dramatic revelation of a family secret to answer this question. Rather than build to a moment of explanation for their strained relationships, as so many family dramas do, this family slowly fades away as each member departs.

After each character finds an excuse to leave the stage the actors return in an entirely new guise. Lindsey Campbell does a fantastic job of switching from the nervous daughter to the slightly too comfortable estate agent who breezes in and takes control of the scene immediately. Though Crispin Letts’ two characters feel less distinct than the rest of the cast he comes across as incredibly warm and likeable throughout.

Greg Hicks is terrific to watch as the bitter patriarch of this fractured family. His cutting remarks are constantly crossing the line between sarcastic quips and genuine cruelty, the audience is laughing one moment and gasping the next. His physical frailty (we learn he has suffered a stroke) becomes more obvious as each of his own family members is replaced by these newcomers. No longer is he surrounded by people used to submitting to his bullying nature, and thus he loses any sense of strength he may have felt.

The reflection of this new and more ‘open’ atmosphere is reflected cleverly within the set (Tom Piper). As the estate agent hurries around rearranging everything, the family’s neutral suburban living room goes from stiff and unwelcoming to comfortable and inviting. A piece of wallpaper is stripped to reveal the bright pattern suffocated beneath all the beige and the blanket resting on the father’s wheelchair-bound knee is thrown over the sofa for a splash of colour.

As each actor returns as a new character the title takes on new meanings. These strangers are here to discuss the sale of the house, but their friendly and open natures also drain the toxic atmosphere that the first half has built up. Though most of these people have just met they treat each other with more kindness than any of the family members had done.

The ending was slightly confusing, and I struggled to understand what message Eno was trying to convey. Replacing each character with a more positive, vibrant version of themselves was a great theatrical device but having no conclusion for the family members we had begun with made me feel rather frustrated.

Eno has done well to provide a new take on such an established genre, and ‘The Open House’ is worth seeing just to witness the cast portray wildly different characters.


Reviewed by Ella McCarron

Photography by Simon Annand


The Open House

Print Room at The Coronet until 17th February



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Review of Hannah & Martin – 4 Stars


Hannah & Martin

Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 27th November 2017


“The dialogue is sharp, witty and fast-paced”


Hannah and Martin takes at its core, the true story of the secret affair between Hannah Arendt, the Jewish political theorist who fled from Germany in 1933, and Martin Heidegger, a philosopher, professor and member of the Nazi party. They first met when Heidegger was a married 36 year old, and Arendt was his eighteen year old student. Soon after they started an affair that lasted at least four years. The play uses this antithetical relationship to explore the boundaries between the personal and the political.

The play was devised and directed by actors Lineke Rijxman and Willem de Wolf, together with Joan Nederlof and is presented in Dutch with English subtitles. Rijxman and Wolf artfully flit between their on stage personas and the characters they play, bringing to life the theories of these philosophers. We are invited to a conversation between two colleagues in a contemporary setting, and then to an imagining of Arendt and Heidegger meeting as professor and student, and then again, after the war. The play is as much about Rijxman and Wolf’s own understandings and applications of the respective philosophers’ theories as it is about the relationship between the eponymous Hannah and Martin.

Despite the intellectual and serious concepts being debated, the opposing views of both characters make for many comic moments, usually when Wolf’s racial insensitivity, resoluteness in his convictions and eagerness to re-enact intimate scenes are juxtaposed with Rijxman’s earnestness and dismissal. A stand-out scene is when Rijxman assumes the role of Adolf Eichmann whilst footage of his trial is played on a television screen within the modular, beech wood set designed by X+L. Eichmann is presented not as a psychopathic monster, but a man who followed the law, concerned with his position within the party far more than the atrocities he was orchestrating. Rijxman’s portrayal emphasises one of Arendt’s most enduring thoughts on the ‘banality of evil’, and you can’t help but wonder whether her views were also impacted by someone she knew, perhaps more intimately, whose own actions she needed to comprehend.

There is no risk of thoughtlessly watching this play. The dialogue is sharp, witty and fast-paced, especially considering the complex subject matter. Both Rijxman and Wolf give natural performances and their chemistry is utterly enjoyable to watch. The ending comes too soon and feels rushed, but whether you are motivated by the personal or the political, this play will have something for you.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward





is at Print Room at the Coronet until 29th November as part of the Coronet International Festival




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