Heartbreak Hotel

Theatre, Interactive
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A new immersive hotel experience arrives at The Jetty in Greenwich.

If you go down to the Jetty today you’ll find fortune tellers, magicians and the Heartbreak Hotel reception desk. It’ll probably take you a while to get inside (the hotel management need to work on their organisation skills) and, once you’re inside, you’ll wonder what exactly you’ve paid for.

New theatre venue The Jetty (made up from some abandoned shipping containers, and home to Shunt’s last show ‘The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face’) is  devoted exclusively to immersive theatre. The only problem is, director Sam Curtis-Lindsay’s production is more like a tentative theatrical dip. The world outside the hotel is fairly realistic, but the world inside – designed by Carla Goodman – is a trippy and chaotic affair. As a ‘guest’, it’s very hard to know how to behave.

The vaguest of storylines emerges in Zoe Wellman and Curtis-Lindsay’s see-sawing script. We have been signed up to a programme – ACHE – which seems to involve breaking our hearts in order to allow them to heal. As we traipse about the hotel, we spy other guests. There’s a young maid (Lucy Benson-Brown) who dares the programme leader (Jack Brown) to break her heart. In another room, we see a husband indulge in some sexy role-play and elsewhere we watch a young couple argue bitterly about the death of their daughter.  

In some rooms the design is bang-out bonkers:  beds are suspended upright, a corridor is filled with sand and a cupboard is crammed with quirky props. Other scenes, though, strain for some sort of realism. Sometimes we’re encouraged to stand back and watch passively and at other times we’re addressed directly by prim programme leaders. It’s utterly baffling.

There’s also sound bleed (is that a stampede overhead?) and, unforgivably, scene bleed. As we’re shoved into the next room, the scene behind us kicks off once again. It’s all a bit of a shambles.

By: Miriam Gillinson

Posted:

Event website: http://www.heartbreakhotelJetty.com
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:15
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:4
LiveReviews|42
2 people listening
2 of 2 found helpful

I really don't know whether to review the show or the review. I fear the reviewer or the show had a bad night. This was not a 2 star experience. I give the show 3 but I am adding a star simply for location and the way a theatrical experience became so social. Jen and Ruth if you are reading this review, you will know what I mean - and you had better invite us to your year-end performance :)  I would rather walk through this immersive piece any time, than sit through so many of the crusty old two-acters currently staggering around the West End stage. If you like your theatre light of plot but heavy on bonkers this is for you. If you also like stunning views of The Thames and making new friends at an after-show party, then this is absolutely for you.  

2 of 2 found helpful
Staff Writer

Well firstly, if you haven't read the official review- DON'T, it gives EVERYTHING away!


The production of this, very different, very confusing and very curious, show was brilliant! Each room was designed brilliantly and I actually felt that I was in a hotel. Some parts dark and dingy and others colourful and strange. 


I loved being in the rooms and watching as stories uncovered. It's a great experience to be a part of the actual play and so close. For something like this the actors must be good and they are! A couple of the stories I wasn't a fan of but there were a couple that really pulled me in. There is a bit in between that is, well, not anything really, but brilliantly fun! Worth a visit and worth a watch, if only for enjoying an experience which then leaves you thinking 'huh'...

2 of 2 found helpful

I've seen a few immersive performances and this was disappointing, a pale imitation of the fantastic Punchdrunk productions of recent years, The Dance of the Red Death and The Drowned Man. With the exception of Roger, the acting was unconvincing not helped by the unclear story line which was far too disjointed. The set is great and the location wonderful, and we really enjoyed the drinks afterwards watching the boats and the sunset on this peaceful part of the Thames. 

3 of 4 found helpful
Tastemaker

The staff were all v welcoming & friendly. Annoyed I'd eaten before arriving because the food looked delicious. I really enjoyed this experience, the cast were amazing, the concept worked & the various storylines & interwoven narratives were at times humorous, sad or touching. At times it was voyeuristic but never dull. I'd love to go again because seeing it in a different order would give a new perspective..

1 of 1 found helpful

Am surprised this has been given such good reviews. Nothing wrong with a bit of immersive theatre but I agree with Sally S in that this play is totally disjointed without any unifying story. I applaud anyone trying something new but sorry you need a good story (or any sort of story) to engage your audience, and Heartbreak Hotel was lacking in this area. Also the venue is great but (typically) you get average food and drink for above-average prices. Thankfully tickets were free courtesy of TimeOut.

1 of 1 found helpful

Black leather and a whip. what is not to like?

imagine opening a hotel door and finding the room is already occupied by a girl in a black leather catsuit brandishing a whip. The dominatrix has a victim that she is taunting. Fortunately, hey have not seen you and so you stay quietly in a corner watching, unable to remove your stare as the scene plays out... Then, you are whisked away into a large wardrobe occupied by a 'Sugar Plum Fairy! So full of exuberance and playfulness that you cannot help but be involved  as this toilet brush wielding lovely draws the crowd int fits of laughter.

Excellent value and a real treat

1 of 1 found helpful

thanks to the Time Out Card team for informing me about this event. I would have been gutted if I missed it. Such a fun night out and the way they work the audience through the space is brilliant. Great drinks, great food and a brilliant atmosphere - I think it's going to be a great summer on the Jetty

2 of 3 found helpful

The show is a brilliant idea and an exciting immersive experience. Great venue and amazing views especially at night. Friendly staff and reasonably price drinks and food.

Tastemaker

Miriam Gillinson's official TimeOut review is quite accurate. Essentially it's an immersive theatre experience where you are taken room-by-room to explore brief character vignettes, without knowing where it's all going to lead. By the end, you still don't know where it's left you. 


My frustration came about through inconsistency. Outside looks like Coney Island dream, inside looks like a David Lynch nightmare. Some actors keep to their single, serious character, while others have a dual-role as a charismatic chaperone, meaning immersion is lost as the play progresses. 


The venue itself is pretty on the Jetty at North Greenwich, and I did have a strong Blueberry Mojito to see me through. You won't miss out if you skip this, but if there are a few of you going, it can be a fun night out in the area.

Tastemaker

If you like immersive theater, you are going to love Heartbreak Hotel. The location was excellent - a place far away from everything, like entering a completely different world. The set design all over the place is amazing. At first you enter the reception of the "hotel". There, you will have to wait till the play starts. Every detail is so brilliant covered. There are even phones working in every table that you can actually call the waitress or the reception stuff and have some fun. You leave bags/coats, have a drink and wait till play starts - that's the point that you walk around the different rooms of the hotel. In each room there are different stories going on but there is a connection to each one of them. I had a great interactive experience that I would definitely think of going back again as each time you enter different rooms/watch different stories going on!

"title"

Tastemaker

This event clearly is a bit like marmite. I rather enjoyed it, when looking at it as a whole package - cool setting with brilliant views of the Thames, really good food, it was an enjoyable experience hence the four stars. Admittedly it was my first immersive theatre experience and I have since been to more impressive ones (I understand the comment about it being a bit more 'amateur'), but I think some reviews are a bit harsh. While the storyline is a bit weak, the experience is fun, wacky and intriguing, worth a shot if you're deliberating.

"title"

Tastemaker

Nice bar and food outside before we went into see the show. I have done a few immersive experiences and this one was a huge disappointment. The actors were poor as well as the storyline. By the end I was thinking, what was the point of that.....


We went last Saturday on a friends whim, it was a sunny glorious 30 degrees, and it only cost £11.75 (booked online). As we walked up to the entrance, there was already a queue for our 6:30pm performance slot. Handed my printout voucher to the disinterested girl at the desk and we all got name stickers. Did I mention the very loud club music booming out from the Jetty venue. This did not look good. I wondered was this part of the performance? As we walked through a crowd of already drunk hipsters dancing really badly (I'm actually not exaggerating), there was no sign saying what or where this thing was suppose to happen. I was beginning to think this outdoor club scene was part of it. It isn't. 


Walking into the seated eating place, there was a random woman who gathered everyone and lead us into the 'hotel'. It looked great inside the 'hallway', dark, atmospheric, the doors were closed behind us and there was no going back. We preceded into room after room of random scenes. I have to echo what others have already said, and add that it could have been done so much better. I don't understand why they couldn't link these stories somehow. There was no final scene or talk with the ACHE staff, we were just let out. Unlike what others got, we had no scene outside (because of the clubbing crowd), and we passed other rooms which we hadn't been in which was a bit diappointing.


Reading what others experienced, it looks like we went on a really bad day. Don't go on a hot Saturday! I had a panic attack and nearly passed out for the heat and lack of air in the first room. Everyone was absolutely drenched (including the poor actors!). The staff should have left the doors open, leakage from the other group wouldn't have mattered because we could still hear them next door. In fact, I liked hearing the random voices coming from down the hallway, it added to the 'hotel' experience.


Overall, the acting and the ACHE staff were very good. It was just the lack of a cohesive script, and of course the heat and lack of ventilation was an ordeal in of itself!

Tastemaker

I understand the mixed reviews for this. Positives- the set was well put together with a rundown midcentury Coney Island hotel type of feel and the actors were on the whole quite engaging (the endearingly sweet dominatrix-turned group therapist was my personal favourite). Drawbacks - the storyline was a little disjointed. They do introduce it as a series of rooms where you observe different relationship dynamics so maybe there's not meant to be a continuous narrative, but it still seems a little unbalanced somehow - there's some connection between scenes but not enough to give you a sense of flow. Anyone expecting the production value of A Drowned Man or Secret Cinema would be disappointed, but let's all remember this isn't £70 a ticket like those productions. At £10 a ticket, I feel Heartbreak Hotel was set at the right level - a bit of fun, reasonable size group, not too long, feel good ending, and a nice place to have a drink afterwards.

Tastemaker

I've been to several immersive events before so had high hopes for this performance. Unfortunately it didn't live up to expectations- the storyline was confused, it started half an hour late, and the cast seemed to be having more fun that the audience at times. 

Tastemaker

I'm a big fan of interactive theatre and this latest production at The Jetty follows the Shunt Production The Boy Who Climbed Out Of His Face. Performed inside a series of shipping containers, the place was transformed into the Heartbreak Hotel where a few scenes were presented to us that linked tenuously to one another. The performances weren't bad and there were a couple of good ideas in there, but a couple of the scenes felt like A Level drama performances. It also didn't help that the night we went, there was a bitter wind blowing across the Thames and the last sing-song they encourage you to take part in takes place on the roof!


I went to this show without any idea of what to expect. It ended up being quite interesting and a good night out.


I'll admit that Heartbreak Hotel isn't the best immersive piece I've seen, but I had a jolly good time, which is what counts! I agree with those who've said it was rather disjointed and that the story could have been clearer, but for a tenner, I'd say it's well worth a visit!


Some of the actors weren't great, but the ones that were made up for it with their bags of energy and enthusiasm. The set's very cleverly done too, though it was boiling hot in there when we went, so would recommend they get some fans. 


If you've not been, I would recommend going, especially if you get the Time Out Offer that gives you entry and a glass of prosecco for £10, but maybe just the once.


Even though I read bad reviews about Heartbreak Hotel prior to going, I was not put off because I was so curious to see it for myself. Well, I should of listened to the reviews is all I can say... About ten minutes into the performance I found myself wishing that I could leave and would have paid the entry fee again if that meant that I was able make an early exit. Once you're inside you can't really leave you see, because you are in the "hotel rooms". Anyway, the last room that we entered was the worst. It required audience participation with a pantomime vibe, which is not up my street. As I did not cheer enough, I was called "a miserable cow" and "a bitch" as part of the act. I tried to act cool/was shocked but now wish that I had complained... However, if you like been insulted for the entertainment of others then pop along to this! 


Not worth even the tenner we spent on it. A disjointed story, with strands bleeding into one another, that doesn't know which way to go, whether for realism or fantasy. I hated the Butlins-like panto, which was aimed at kids of what? 15? Definitely not for the over 25. After Punchdrunk, this is like bad stand-up comedy in suburbia. Nowadays, it seems that immersive theatre has become the byword for people who can't act or write.


Interactive Theatre is a love or hate experience. At my evening spent in the Heartbreak Hotel there was definitely a mixture of the two. I enjoyed the show personally but it won't be for everyone. The cream of interactive theatre has to be Punch Drunk and with the amazing show The Drowned Man this smaller show may draw some comparisons but if you go in with an open mind you will enjoy the show for what it is. The set design is great and soundtrack and acting is mostly really good. The show isn't quite long enough to really flesh out the story and some of the different characters seemed quite pointless while others were really entertaining. The set is a bit small and so causes some issues with different of groups of participants bumping into each other or having to wait to enter then next set. I am sure this will get better as the show runs and they iron out the smaller details. These are minor complaints though. For the price of the ticket and the bar + location on the Thames I would recommend this to anyone who wants to do something a little different with their evening. The plot revolves mostly around a programme aimed at helping get over a broken heart and the less you know the better. Lets just say drug use, domination and an interesting use of a plastic bag help to make this show a bit more than your average west end production. 

"title"


Very entertaining. Unique idea. Gutted when it was over! Very well done. Great performance.


Wonderful experience on a summer night. All I can add to previous reviews is just go and see if for yourself. Tip: don't eat before and taste some of the delicious though affordable food at the venue.


I liked the concept of the show and the set up, it was very innovative. The acting was great as well as the location and surroundings. What could be improved: the split of groups of people (I particularly didn't want to split from my partner), the organisation and logistics of moving from one room to another - it was chaotic and faulty at times. Nevertheless, I'd recommend :-)


Wow! My 2 friends and myself all loved this show. Thought it was fantastic. The set is designed brilliantly, the stories and actors were really great. We loved the whole thing. Only negative thing I can think of is the sound bleeding from other rooms, but it didn't ruin the experience. Recommend to all!

Staff Writer

A weird and wonderful venue - the details around the set are amazing - and when the sun sets over the city it's properly stunning. A bit like a 'pick your own' story book, the order of the story will change, so looking forwad to seeing the show again and seeing how it evolves and grows over a long, heartbroken summer.


A theatre space comprising shipping containers is redolent with possibilities… as exploited to the full by Shunt’s 2014 show The Boy Who Climbed Out Of His Face, a bewildering and startling journey re-tracing the steps of asylum seekers from London to their embarkation points.

Heartbreak Hotel, the latest show at The Jetty, benefits from the venue’s great location, catering and sporadic live music but the show itself fails to live up to expectations.

The concept of a slightly sinister organisation delivering a “Programme” of emotional healing but ultimately feeding off most of its adherents (think Scientology with cheesy t-shirts in place of Dianetics) has enormous potential.The cast is willing and front-of-house staff are in-character as receptionists, bell-hops, etc.However, despite the delightfully anarchistic logistics as cast and disoriented audience ricochet around the partitioned performance spaces, the series of disconnected and unconvincing vignettes offered up fails to move, inspire or thrill.

So enjoy a great night out at a very cool location – especially at heavily discounted midweek ticket proces - just don’t expect too much from the main event.


It was one of those weird things that you see and you're like baffled of what's going on but you're like having a good time. It's quite interesting. Watch it to appreciate.


Fawlty towers meets Anthony Robbins. This is a weird show for sure. In your face at times and totally different. The place was packed the night I went and the group was split into 2 parts. It was only afterwards that I found out the other group had started their journey through the different hotel rooms at a different point in the show. each room has a theme and we were ushered from room to room to be confronted by different actors.. or some times cameos by the same actors. If you want something a bit zany then this could be for you. As the guy said.. I am not a gynaecologist, but I don't mind having a look! Worth a look i think!


Absolutely amazing, loved the whole concept and it was pulled off perfectly.

Staff Writer

It's such an interesting space and they've used it really well. Some of the characters are really fun and engaging and the rooms are beautiful. Given the constraints of the shipping containers, they've made it look incredible. I would definitely go again to see how it feels seeing the show in a different order.


A good amount of mild interaction and surprises, would definitely recommend.


Crazy Time! Partner and I went last night and really enjoyed it. The hotel and bar area before the show is good fun with lots of things to do (ordered 2 drinks to our table via a telephone service) - recommend the cocktails! Show itself was a bit confusing to begin with (we are supposed to be on an ACHE program) but soon got into a rhythm about different stories line in a hotel. One tip for all... wear a coat! We ended up on a roof top kind of bar and the wind made it freezing. Will come back again when its a warm day.


Great immersive experience.  We had a fantatsic time, well worth the money.  However, they split your group into 2 on entry, so as there was only 2 of us, I spend the whole experience on my own - the reason for which was never made clear. The acting was great, however, the premise of the whole concept is that the actors are checking into a "programme", again, the point/mission of which is never made entirely clear.

The setting is fantatsic.  We went for a 7.30pm slot, and came out as the sun was setting over the O2, which was a spectacular and atmospheric view.


Checked-in to the Heartbreak Hotel on Sunday 7th June. Great theatre from the moment you present your tickets. So impressed by the atmospheric hotel sets; retro, seedy, dim, unsettling, world weary. Thought provoking, introspective and brilliantly acted throughout; still unravelling a plethora of mood and meaning following my visit. HH is on another level. Congratulations on a rewarding event that dares to take risks. Hope to make another reservation.

Tastemaker

Great idea in spectacular settings by the River Thames! Only awarding it 4 stars as I wasn't that moved/provoked by the stories .. worth your time and the trip down to Greenwich!


The show is excellent. Really innovative idea, great story and acting. The venue is amazing and the whole experience makes a great night out as you can sit and have drinks looking across the Thames before or after the show. The only downside is they split you up from your friends! I don't know if this is on purpose or just an easy way to get people into groups but for me as I went with my boyfriend it wasn't very fun to be separate. Also the actors seemed to be a bit frustrated that the audience wasn't participating very much but I think that's because you're with strangers! If I had to make one change I'd say keep friends together especially if there's just 2 of you.


I really liked it. Very interesting, short and sweet. I really enjoyed working out the plot, the venue and the actors. I totally recommend, and even more at these prices


Very exciting immersive theatre - amazing actors, great writing cleverly interweaving the different story lines. The plot takes you on a journey from laughter to sorrow (order depending on where you start). Definitely going again this summer as it was just a breathtaking bit of theatre.

Venue is lovely with amazing views over the Thames - drinks and food very resonably priced (didn't try the good but looked very yummy)!


It was my first experience with immersive theatre, didn't know what to expect and it turned up to be great. Each room tells different story, cast is great and production runs smoothly. My suggestion - wear comfortable shoes - no sitting once you enter the hotel. Also - they ask you to split and follow number of the room you are allocated to, so be prepared for that if you are on a date (we went together anyway). PS - Go in the evening and after the show you can admire amazing views of sunset over London. Worth checking out! 

0 of 1 found helpful
Staff Writer

The guy in the closet was a definite highlight, really funny.

0 of 2 found helpful

This is immersive theatre that really works. Be prepared to be separated from your friends and take on Heartbreak Hotel alone, learning about the lives and loves of the residents in enough order to understand the story but not enough to always feel very comfortable.


Brad Clapson is brilliant as the Guest Host, really bringing the experience to life and Jack Brown is as hilarious in this as he was in "Symphony". Strong performances from Lucy Benson-Brown and Natalia Campbell also brought to life the female heartbreak experience in dramatic form.


All this amidst the glorious setting of The Jetty at Greenwich, with delightful cocktails and delicious food (I can highly recommend the Pulled Pork) make the trip out East worthwhile.


Definitely one you should be watching this Summer.