John Robertson's The Dark Room
  • By Tom Rolph
  • |
  • 26th Aug 2023
  • |
  • ★★★★

Returning for its eleventh year at the Edinburgh Fringe, this cult favorite show has lost none of its energy and atmosphere. We spent an hour watching a version of an 80s classic text adventure game, where ‘you wake to find yourself in a dark room!!!’, with members of the audience being picked to play for the £1000 prize. However, after a few goes around and inevitably being sent back to the opening screen all players end up being hailed with the shouts of 100 people shouting ‘You die! You die! You die!.

One of the most intuitively interactive and hysterical shows that you could go back to every night

John Robertson brings an extraordinary energy to his performance, which is scary and intimidating, but fundamentally charming and absolutely hilarious. As he struts around naming each of his players Darren with no exception, he keeps everyone thoroughly on the edge of their seats in both fear and anticipation for the next round. What adds to the charm of what is otherwise an often crass, cruel, and degrading show (in the best way possible) is Robertson's clear love and devotion for the game, it is his childhood dream realized as an adult and it’s a wonder to watch.

Part of what makes this show so great is the crowd. At the beginning some of the lines we heard the most like; 'You Die! You Die! You Die' or 'You awake to find yourself in a Dark Room' were being spoken by the odd member of the audience, but by the end we were all bellowing along to the shame of whoever had just failed to escape the Dark Room.

The changes that have been made over the years all add to the bizarre experience rather than subtract from it. With regular guest acts from other Fringe shows who come along to be insulted and demeaned, the same as anyone else brave enough to enter The Dark Room. As well as the addition of new rooms and the possibility of crowd surfing in the latter part of the show. This brutal game show is one of the most intuitively interactive and hysterical shows that you could go back to every night of the Fringe.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Tom Rolph

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
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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Theatre MAD
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

'Watching audiences tackle the challenge and fail is one of the funniest sights around, don't miss it' (Telegraph). The audience is trapped in a retro videogame with a sadistic, end-of-level boss. Escape and win £1,000 or be brutally murdered by the rest of the crowd! Will you: A) Find the light switch? B) Go north? C) Abandon hope? Brutal, hilarious, innovative. ***** (Comedy.co.uk). **** (Scotsman). Winner: Chortle Award, 2020. Fringe sell-out, 2019. Nominated: Best Comedy, FringeWorld 2023. Runner-Up: Best Comedy, NextUp 2022. As seen at Blue Dot, Insomnia Gaming Festival and Twitch global front page.

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