Music review: Room 29

Edinburgh International Festival: When you are handed a key and invited to join Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker and pianist Chilly Gonzales in Room 29 of the Chateau Marmont hotel, the legendary Sunset Strip playground of the rich and famous, it would be rude not to join the party.

Kings Theatre


However, their witty, song cycle emerges as more of an empathetic glimpse through the keyhole than a monument to Hollywood excess as Cocker speak-sings of the travails of former residents Jean Harlow, Howard Hughes and Mark Twain’s daughter Clara Clemens over Gonzales’s minimalist, melancholic figures and the strings of Hamburg’s Kaiser Quartett.

Their meditations on the loneliness of these sequestered stars are accompanied by archive footage, music video miniatures, directed by Auge Altona, and the sage voice-over of film historian David Thomson, and interspersed with theatrical flourishes. An audience member is screen tested, Cocker goes walkabout and dancer Maya Orchin swirls mesmerically under staccato strobes.

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Perhaps deliberately, given that one of the show’s themes is the need to have it all at once, there is a little too much baggage to pack together entirely coherently, but this is one hotel stay that will linger in the memory.

Until today, 8pm.