Ben Russell: The Tokyo Hotel
A fun if befuddling hour within a noir-ish universe
This article is from 2015.
The Tokyo Hotel could have been subtitled ‘one man and his door’. Ben Russell has just the single prop on stage (albeit quite an unwieldy one) in this solo whirlwind of multi-character chaos. Although the first few minutes are tricky to get your head around exactly what’s unfolding before you, he gets the crowd firmly on his side when a couple of audience members realise they’re in the wrong show and leave with the maximum of fuss. Russell turns it to his advantage by comically starting all over again.
Describing his show as ‘a tiny man having a fever dream on stage’, it’s hard to disagree. The noir-ish universe he’s concocted features all manner of ‘zipheads and crack weasels’ with names like Ziggy Martinez and Carlos (he has a lot of fun here with his very physical piano playing) while Werner Herzog pops up running the elevators and spouting gibberish. Another hotel guest is a Hollywood auteur who talks of the problems with having created a hero called Double Nose whose arch nemesis is Triple Pussy. You get the idea.
Ultimately, this is a triumph of one-man’s force of personality and energy over a rock-tight script or anything approaching meaning. A baffling hour but perhaps if The Tokyo Hotel made more sense, it would have been half the fun.
Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 9.40pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).