Ben Russell : The Tokyo Hotel

By Colin FlahertyTokyo Hotel

Ben Russell is the genial yet troubled tour guide of our voyeuristic visit to The Tokyo Hotel, a faded beauty of a place with lots of run down and broken occupants. He takes us to various parts of the hotel where we meet these strange people and learn about their past and their slide into the fringes of humanity. We meet people such as resident pianist Carlos with his inelegant anecdotes, games designer Martin with his many conspiracy theories and even bump into Caligula in the elevator where he tells us of his latest debauched activities.

This show is akin to a late night fever dream with its many hilariously strange yet inspired ideas featuring a cast of wonderfully eccentric beings. The way that his character segments are constructed is a joy to behold. Russell takes a delightfully silly concept, that from anyone else would get a single laugh, and stretches it to ridiculous extremes, sometimes almost to breaking point. Even though he does the over the top repetition routine beautifully, it’s the other times where he keeps piling on more and more hilarious ideas that impresses and takes us further down the rabbit hole of this strange world.

Russell’s character work is brilliant, using very little in the way of props and clever musical cues to bring these bizarre souls to life. Some characters require plenty of comical ranting and exaggerated mugging to get their jokes across while others spout their nonsensical monologues with a straight face. He is also able to expertly employ some subtly in the quieter moments to give emotional colour to the performance. Dominating the stage is a full sized door that threatens to unhinge his performance on occasion but he handles these mishaps with a deft touch of slapstick that keeps us entertained until he is back on script. His time spent at Second City in Chicago was certainly time well spent.

Despite what you may read on Trip Advisor, I highly recommend a visit to The Tokyo Hotel. You are sure to enjoy your stay!

The Tokyo Hotel is on at The Imperial Hotel until April 19