Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

Phoenix Theatre: “The Hotel Nepenthe”

Ben Asaykwee in Phoenix Theatre’s “The Hotel Nepenthe”

The phrase “dream state” is used in the program notes to describe The Hotel Nepenthe, and there is not a more accurate descriptor. The show could have come straight from playwright John Kuntz’s Chantix- or Valium-induced lucid dreams.

Fourteen scenes are staged using four actors: Ben Asaykwee, Jolene Mintink Moffatt, Betsy Norton, and Scott Van Wye. From hard-to-find dead babies, to whore(r) stories, to the purple human pincushion, to burial with Eggo waffles, eccentricity abounds. Oh, and the statement that smoking menthols is like sucking on a candy cane’s ass. Or how one minute you’re making goo-goo eyes and the next you are fucking a camel.


With Bill Simmons at the helm, the production celebrates dark and/or grotesque humor but also puts the audience on edge. All four actors seamlessly transition from character to character, giving each one just what he or she needs to make them real.

And there is a through line if you squint.

This is a challenging show. It’s not for everybody. You will leave either blown away or confused as hell. Decide how far you will let your mind take you.



freelance editor, writer, and theater critic

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