Algernon's Reviews > The Hothouse

The Hothouse by Harold Pinter
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's review
Jan 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: plays

This is not Pinter's best-known work, and it actually lived in his desk drawer for 22 years, but it is very good quality both for the stage and for good reading.

It is a dark comedy set in a state-run mental hospital where patients are referred to strictly by numbers and, we soon infer, are not well treated. A patient has been impregnated by someone on staff, and the mystery and potential scandal launches a macabre quadrille of investigation, torture, and obfuscation. Meanwhile, the patients seem to be getting restless...

Seeing this play performed by Trinity Rep in 1980 (a production that went to Broadway and was nominated for a Tony) helped hook me on theatre for life. It was funny and frightening, and the tension never let up. Later, sitting down to read the play that had made such an impression on me, I was surprised at how good a read it was all on its own.

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