The Last Hotel @ The Royal Lyceum Theatre

Review by Stephanie Green | 12 Aug 2015

A stunning new opera with the taboo-breaking subject of assisted suicide, The Last Hotel will surely become a classic of our times. It has bleak vision but is shot through with a love of life. Most surprisingly, writer and director, Enda Walsh’s sparse, poetic libretto is a juxtaposition of humour with tragedy, reminiscent of Beckett. This is wonderfully echoed by composer Donnacha Dennehy’s pounding minimalist score, undercutting the singers’ lyrical lines and searing sean nós with interruptions by harsh disco music.

Catching us offguard, it begins with a knockabout by the hilarious Mikel Murfi as the caretaker, and initial social pleasantries, voicemails, and a radio weather forecast are equally banal. The realisation of why they are there is even more shocking. Multi-layered, with Homeric references, the themes of life (beauty, food, home) are undercut with Pinteresque irony. Likewise their dreams for ‘new life’: the husband wishes to convert his dilapidated house; the wife yearns for love and settles on being screwed; and the woman, an anorexic, wants to be the centre of attention, and faces the ultimate irony of listening to her own breath.

Robin Adams as the husband sings with superb irony, and the wife (Katherine Manley) and the woman (Claudia Boyle) both sing beautifully soaring solos. André de Ridder conducts the orchestra with energy and vitality. A brilliant production.

The Last Hotel, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, 'til 12 Aug, 8pm, prices vary