'Cahill Expressway'- by Jeffery Smart
This image evokes the feeling of both John & Roy not being able to find their way out of the hotel, or their way through life.
John: “I can’t leave. I’ve been out there for hours. Every street looks the same, the same walls, same windows, same doorways. I thought if I just walked in a straight line for long enough I’d end up somewhere else. Anywhere would do. But there are no straight lines. I turned … and I turned again. I thought that I’d made it, I thought that I’d got out of this… maze. And then I looked up… and I was standing outside this place. Again. I didn’t mean to come back here. But I came back here. Maybe I am insane. But I don’t think I am. I can’t possibly be sane, I know that, but does that mean I’m crazy?”
'Holiday'- by Jeffery Smart
This image has inspired the use of balcony masking in our set design but it also evokes a feeling of isolation and of each inhabitant being in their own little boxes, unable to connect.
Nigel: People wander in here thinking all kinds of things, wanting this, wanting that, escaping one thing, looking for another, lost, miserable, confused… even hopeful sometimes. They scratch around in their rooms like mice or mope around down here like their lives have stopped and their waiting for them to start again. It never happens. Never.
'Morgensonne' by Edward Hopper c.1952
This image connects to the sense of loneliness, emptiness, loss and dislocation felt by many of the characters in the play. A longing to escape, to identify, to connect and yet a fear of the unknown, risky outside world. Both a sense of melancholy and of hope exist in the play as the characters are continually attempting to extracate themselves from their situation.
Alice: I'm tired of things I'm used to. I'm tired of hoping that I'll find something again that I lost a long time ago. We'll leave it all behind us, everything that we've lost... and everything we've never had.
The fish are referred to metaphorically throughout the play. They become a symbol of the loneliness and sense of being adrift, lost in something deep, profound and mysterious.
John: For a fish, there is only now. Isn’t that remarkable? A fish can’t regret anything, or hope for anything. They must be nature’s most fortunate creations
Mrs Spence: They live such peaceful lives, don’t they? They make no sound at all. They bother no-one. They’re hardly there at all. Sometimes I feel like that.
Ellen: It's frightening sometimes, as if I'm swimming in very deep water, or flying a long way up in the sky. It's wonderful, but the water feels too deep and the sky too big and I'm not sure that I won't suddenly just... be swept away. Maybe that's what being happy is.
Magritte La Reproduction interdite, 1937
This image reflects the shifts and slippages in identity that the characters feel as they attempt to pin down truth, identity and self.
Roy: "I feel worn down to a shadow. I'm... fading. And I've stopped putting up a struggle. My life just goes on day after day, but it goes on without me in it."
John: I don’t know what my life means anymore. I’m just caught in it, exhausted by it. My life just seems to go on, but… without me in it.
Ellen: Sometimes you say things because you want them to be true.
Roy: Am I like him at all?
Alice: You don’t have to be. Am I like her?
Roy: I can tell myself you are and you will be. We can be whoever we want to be”
Edward Hopper,'Hotel Lobby' 1943
When creating a set design, we wanted the lobby to convey the sense that it was set up with the intention to welcome visitors, despite being nonetheless awkward. We have chosen decor from a heyday long past, evoking the presence of ghosts of businessmen and shadows of faded glory. We want to reveal the pretense of the false veneer of warmth and belonging that exists in the service industry.
Mrs Spence: A hotel lobby is a strange kind of place, isn’t it? When you’re in one you’re either checking in or checking out… not yet properly arrived, or not entirely departed. You’re in between. A person is always somewhere, but in a hotel lobby… where are you exactly?
John: I’ve no idea.
Mrs Spence: Neither have I.
Mrs Spence: When you have a home to go to, you should go there, That’s what I think. Hotels are for people who have no other place to go. I never feel quite myself when I’m here. I always feel a little lost, as if I’ve stepped outside of my life. I need to be where I belong. That’s where we all need to be, isn’t it?
Nigel: There are two kinds of people who come in here. Those that know where they are, where they have been and where they are going, and those… that don’t. I’m a keen observer of people. I’ve seen people come in here who are in all kinds of trouble.
Mrs Spence: Hello and goodbye… and nothing in between. That’s hotel lobby for you.
Mrs Spence: A hotel is a place of convenience, where everything is as it should be but nothing as you like it.