John Robertson – The Dark Room: Symphony of a Floating Head

John Robertson’s send up of classic text based video games succeeds in being an hilarious evening of retro fun.

Dark Room is an engrossing and incredibly enjoyable experience and one that I find myself tempted to play again.

Awakening to find yourself in a dark room as a person called Darren – for you are always Darren – you must use all of your wits to escape whilst avoiding all the potential pitfalls that could lead to your untimely death. The centre piece of Dark Room is of course John Robertson himself and he holds the entire show together through his presence and charisma. Striding across the stage with a manic energy that keeps the audience completely engrossed at all times, he comes across as a deranged dungeon master on a power trip as he gleefully describes challengers meeting their demise.

Robertson demonstrates a deft hand for improvisation in creating many laugh out loud moments from even the most minute of audience resonances. His recreations of text based games is accurate and well done, with retro gaming fans in the audience chuckling away as the genre’s tropes and clichés are parodied and invoked. In fact, the show seems to have developed a cult following of sorts and many an audience member was chanting along with Robertson as we descended into a game.

The general premise of the show is innovative, in forcing the audience to make choices in trying to escape the Dark Room. Unfortunately this can create problems when subsequent audience members go over the same ground – slowing down the show slightly – but Robertson is able to keep the energy up and quickly get the pace back on track.

In the end Dark Room is an engrossing and incredibly enjoyable experience and one that I find myself tempted to play again. It’s not often than I find myself enjoying myself in a pitch black room surrounded by other sweaty fringe goers while an Australian man shouts at me. Anyone who can make an hour of this entertaining deserves to be checked out by everyone.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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Performances

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The Blurb

The world’s only live-action videogame remixed with new levels, torments, Darren. Will you: A. Panic? B. Panic more? £1,000 grand prize. ***** (FringeReview.co.uk). ***** (Skinny). ***** (ThreeWeeks). Winner Argus Angel, Brighton Fringe.

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