Hotel Savoy at Goethe Institut
Saturday night took us up to the the Goethe Institut for Hotel Savoy, a co-production with PS122. This theater-for-one promenade piece is loosely premised on Joseph Roth’s novel of the same name (which I haven’t read) and hovers between history, memory and fact.
Hotel Savoy is as much an installation as a performance piece. Creator Dominic Huber is a designer and architect, and he has, with precision and an eye for uncanny detail, transformed the Goethe Institut into a mysterious hotel. From the array of shoes left outside doors to the hotel rooms, to the disheveled bedroom and untidy kitchen to beautifully composed “under-construction” ballrooms, the entire building feels like an elegant and benevolently haunted house.
As befits a haunted house, there are strange goings-on, odd noises and unusual tenants including an elevator operator, a young maid, the hotel barber, the concierge, and a barmaid. As you meet the various tenants they tell you stories, engage you in conversation, and recount the history of the “hotel”.
I don’t want to give too much away – the fun of the show is in exploring the hotel and taking in your surroundings, meeting the people and engaging with them. There are a few small mysteries tucked away here or there, wisps of a plot, suggestions of the eery and unknown. But mostly its all about you.
In Hotel Savoy you are the lead actor – the tenants you meet ask you questions – deep, probing, but essentially benign questions about your life. The nature of the journey you take is up to you and your willingness to participate. You decide the tone of your trip. Of the several conversations I had my favorite was, unsurprisingly, with the bartender. Story of my lush life. I also enjoyed meeting the Barber who revealed a spiritual, mystical side that was both cosmic and entertaining.
Hotel Savoy is a hotel where they can never find your room, where you never fully settle, you wander the halls meeting other lost souls and when you’re number’s up, your number’s up.
If this is the afterlife, I can live with that.