Over at Tychy@ the Fringe headquarters, I begin every morning rinsing out my brain with an espresso and reading the latest leaf of Broadway Baby, invariably with a mixture of pity and exasperation. Keiran Corcoran’s lead review this morning, however, made me immediately alert. The description of the play – Zecora Ura‘s “Hotel Medea,” which is apparently being shown at the Summerhall – sounded incredible.
The audience arrives at the Summerhall at midnight, and the performance lasts until dawn. “Hotel Medea” spends its six or so allotted hours telling the myth of Jason and Medea, but there are intervals and lots of audience participation to fill the time. Finally, as dawn breaks over the city, the cast treat the audience to breakfast. The whole show costs £30, which, whilst breaking down to £5 an hour, does not to my mind compensate for one’s contribution as a participant.
Either this is the most stupidest play to be ever created or it is a hoax. Perhaps it is the latest work of Anton Krashny, a fictitious Soviet-dissident artist who was originally invented at the Festival in 1974 by Joan Bakewell and Clarke Tait as a prank upon a know-all television researcher. Krashny consequently became established as a running in-joke – news of his whereabouts and activities circulated yearly amongst the Festival elite – and this was used to ruthlessly expose and mock obscurist snobbery. But every dog has his day, and perhaps Krashny has finally resorted to theatre and “Hotel Medea” is his masterpiece.
One can imagine a circle of drunken journalists putting their heads together in a lonely bar to agree upon the reviews, but how could they plant the ad in the official Fringe brochure? Perhaps this hoax is being orchestrated from the highest level.
The satire is obviously at the expense of that most contemporary of Fringe theatre attractions – interactivity. I am very stuffy and old-fashioned, believing that theatre audiences should stay in their seats and mind their own business. I recently had the idea of attending an “interactive” theatre show and reviewing only the audience, writing nothing whatsoever about the rest of the performance (I should keep these jokes up my sleeve), but I have a very powerful imagination and if I was asked to participate in a play I would probably get carried away and stab somebody with a rapier.
But with the most fashionable Fringe theatre audiences now being marched around as if they were in a gym lesson, “Hotel Medea” is the perfect satire upon interactivity: a poor, sleep-deprived audience is forced to submit to interactive exercises through the darkest hours of the night, whilst inwardly praying for the first merciful glimpses of dawn.
If this is genuinely a real play, Tychy will review it on two conditions: firstly, if somebody pays my expenses (seriously, for thirty pounds, the Queen should be fucking performing in it), and secondly I want a clear assurance that there will be actually somebody else in the audience other than me. There is apparently an audience for every play, but “Hotel Medea” is conceivably the exception. Who knows what sort of individuals would present themselves at Summerhall – if such an audience existed, I am not certain that I would feel safe in it. That liberated, interactive midnight performance could ultimately degenerate into bukkake.
One recognises, however, that accommodation is rare and expensive during the Festival, and as “Hotel Medea” is essentially providing bed and breakfast for £30, perhaps their audiences are made up of desperate backpackers and last-minute tourists, who will spend the night trying to discreetly doze through those interactive exercises. But I’d eat my hat if this was real. I congratulate Zecora Ura upon giving me a good laugh.