Chatroom

Congratulations to the Exeter University Theatre Company for this production which allows the emotion to bubble just under the surface without allowing it to erupt into cliché.Set entirely in a series of Internet chatrooms, the play focuses on Jim, a clinically depressed 18-year-old looking for advice from anonymous Essex teenagers he meets online. Unfortunately, although these people understand Jim, they definitely do not have his best interests at heart.Director Alice Birch has brilliantly overcome the challenge of staging a play where the characters never actually meet. Her cast sit on stools staring impassively into space, their eyes the blinking of the cursors on their screens, waiting for their opportunities to speak. Nic McQuillan’s Jim is wonderful: touching, sensitive, angry, defeated. And Craig Knox is poisonous as a self-proclaimed ‘angry cynic’, his face contorted into a mask of fury, raging at a cultural system he feels betrayed by, if it even exists.Unfortunately, the play itself is mediocre. It makes its points almost immediately and doesn’t really develop them beyond the obvious. Hostility is easy when you never have to look the other person in the eye. And the playwright’s handling of Jim’s closing monologues about depression smacks of amateurism. It’s also a shame that the whole cast doesn’t get more of a chance to shine because its clear they can engage with the material in front of them in an interesting way. Ultimately, the script contorts otherwise naturalistic performances into unrealistic shapes that betray everything the actors have worked towards. But as a production of a published play it is exciting, bold and definitely worth your time.

Since you’re here…

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Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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The Blurb

'He's our cause. Mess him up a bit. ' Six teenagers meet in a chatroom where anonymity is the first and only rule. How far will you go if you're not face to face? www.eutco.co.uk

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