Chatroom

An insight into the online lives of six teenagers, Chatroom displays a parent’s worst imagining of how online communication can escalate. Jim, a fifteen-year-old troubled teenager visits a chatroom looking for consolation. Instead, he meets William and Eva, two teenagers bent on meddling and encouraging him towards a final, irreversible outcome. Intense and dark, Chatroom exceeded every expectation.

Crucially important, this cannot go unwatched.

The most memorable element was undoubtedly the characterisation and the acting. The characters were expertly written by Enda Walsh, and intensely embodied by each actor, each fitting their part perfectly. The young actors were all incredibly expressive and engaging, and, in such a short amount of time, made their character’s journey throughout the show feel remarkably real. They were an extremely strong ensemble, so much so it is hard to choose stand out performances. Patrick Fleming (William) and Serena Jennings (Eva) were both hugely memorable in their roles as the bullying, coercive and complex manipulators. The delivery of all the actors was excellent, however James Lewis playing Jim particularly stood out.

The staging was simple. Each actor sits passively on a blue plastic box, which illuminates when they are online. They are wide-eyed and stare out to the audience at their imaginary computer screens. All remain on stage for the entire play, their presence serving as a reminder of the powerful nature of words, and that what is said when online is equally as harmful as what is said to the face. Them being present, still in the distressed position they were when they disconnected, held the destructive characters accountable for their aggressiveness, and cut straight through to the crux of the matter of cyber bullying.

The pop music that played at scene changes fitted the style and subject matter perfectly. I had the distinct impression that writer Enda Walsh and director Will Merrick (incredibly it is his directing debut) had combed through and dissected each miniscule detail as it seems that only then could they have achieved such a significant and relevant production that is loaded with meaning.

Crucially important, this cannot go unwatched.

Reviews by Lottie Scaramanga

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

No Prophet Theatre welcome you to the Chatroom. These six teenage characters communicate only via the internet. Conversations range in subject from Britney Spears to Willy Wonka to suicide: Jim is depressed and talks of ending his life and Eva and William decide to do their utmost to persuade him to carry out his threat. From this chilling premise is forged a funny, compelling and uplifting play that tackles the issues of teenage life head-on and with great understanding. From the producers of Boys 2013 ***** and Punk Rock 2012 *****.

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