John Robertson: The Dark Room
  • By Liam Rees
  • |
  • 17th Aug 2017
  • |
  • ★★★★★

There are many different kinds of video games: roleplaying, shoot-em-up, strategy, the list is endless. More broadly speaking, however, there are two basic kinds of game: games where the objective is to win and games where the objective is to keep the game going for as long as possible, where the simple act of playing is more important than the end result. John Robertson: The Dark Room belongs to the latter category. While our attempts to escape The Dark Room are ultimately futile, in the process of trying, and failing, we have a fantastic time and learn a lot about who we really are.

Trust me, it’s fantastic, or have I just been indoctrinated as well?

Dressed like a kind of budget death-metal singer, Robertson takes impish pleasure in singling out audience members to work out what path they’ll take to escape The Dark Room, in the style of text-based adventure games from the eighties. Don’t worry if you’re not an avid gamer or think that reference sounds a tad niche, the game’s mechanics become remarkably clear after the second (maybe third) time that, as Robertson puts it, “Ya die, ya die, ya die, ya die, ya die!” If that sounds terrifying then, fair enough, there is a lot of chanting, screaming and more than enough opportunities for you to reveal just how awful a human being you really are.

John Robertson: The Dark Room is about as close as you can get to joining a cult without actually signing away your entire life and eternal soul. He has an undeniable cult following (the woman sat next to me was on her 15th viewing in four years) and it’s easy to see why – provided you’re not faint-hearted and enjoy unrelenting failure. Trust me, it’s fantastic, or have I just been indoctrinated as well? You’ll have to try to escape The Dark Room if you want to find out for yourself.

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The Blurb

You awake to find yourself in a dark room! You, the audience, must choose an option. Will you: A) Find the light switch. B) Cry for help. C) Go north? Come and play a live-action, text-based adventure game! It's a choose your own adventure – choose it! After 4 million YouTube hits, 10 crowd-surfs, four death threats and sell-out shows worldwide. Cult hit The Dark Room returns to Edinburgh for its sixth consecutive run! Winner: ThreeWeeks Editors Award 2016. ***** (British Comedy Guide). ***** (Skinny). ***** (ThreeWeeks). 'Not to be missed' (Guardian). Don't miss it!