The Dolphin Hotel

It is a disturbing but all too common tale: girl meets boy, falls in love, and gets tricked into a life of prostitution. This is the cautionary message behind The Dolphin Hotel, produced in conjunction with Stop the Traffik, a global movement which fights human trafficking. This well-crafted play tells the story of a Hungarian girl Zsuzsana, whose lover, Gabor, convinces her to enter the sex trade when they move to the UK. There she meets a socially awkward client called Eric who takes a special liking to her.

The play, directed and written by Samantha O’Rourke, succeeds in shedding light on the reasons why some women enter the sex trade.

Like dolphins – an analogy Zsuzsana elaborates on in the play – the men who exploit her are not as endearing or benign as they seem. Romantic relationships become arenas for sexual and emotional abuse.

While some attempts are made to put a human face on the victims of trafficking – we learn, for instance, that Zsuzsana wanted to be a teacher, and used to own a pet goldfish – the play focuses mainly on the soul-crushing effects of prostitution. Julia Quayle delivers a strong, impressively controlled performance as Zsuzsana, displaying mute defiance while trapped in a depressing cycle of sexual exploitation. As she performs her routine of dressing and undressing in front of the audience, her face is inscrutable. Physical theatre is effectively used to reflect the the way she is brutally treated, and the choice of venue – an oppressive, dimly-lit room in Edinburgh’s Jury’s Inn – is very apt.

The play, directed and written by Samantha O’Rourke, succeeds in shedding light on the reasons why some women enter the sex trade. More glimpses into Zsuzsana’s inner consciousness, however, would have been welcome.

I would recommend The Dolphin Hotel to anyone who is capable of spending an evening mulling over some uncomfortable but important issues.

Reviews by Toh Wen Li

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The Blurb

‘Sometimes I count sheep. Or rabbits or cats. Big cats, lions, tigers. Sometimes bears, big, small, brown, black. Sometimes I count ceiling tiles or sometimes I just count.’ Girl meets boy. They fall in love. He wants to start a new life together. Zsuzsana finds herself far from Hungary adjusting to life in the UK; a victim of trafficking. The Dolphin Hotel explores the personal relationships which facilitate sexual exploitation. Darkly comedic with elements of physical theatre, what happens when the person you love isn’t who you thought they were? By Everyman Playhouse Young Writer Samantha O’Rourke.