The Dark Room for Kids

The Dark Room is both a literal and moral description. We're all trapped in a gory text-based adventure game, and have to work together to try and make it out alive. Unlikely. Every decision made by an audience volunteer leads to a chain of grizzly consequences until they are inevitably killed off, and we are sent back to the start. All this is controlled by the platinum-haired Skeletor (John Robertson) who shouts a mix of scripted and improvised abuse at the foolish audience players.

If you are a parent looking for a family friendly show, you should be aware that there is no safe script here

At its best, the atmosphere Skeletor creates is deliciously dangerous. The game itself is a brilliant idea, and means that he gets away with not executing it particularly well. Within the format, there are minigames which are fun and inventive, such as slaughtering a pink inflatable flamingo or choosing an audience member with his finger as a shadow puppet. But on the whole, Robertson substitutes humour and dexterity for loudness.

The age recommendation is for 12+, but despite the title, this cannot honestly be called a kids show. It's fundamentally the same as the adult show, with all its swearing, violence, innuendos, and lack of hope. There may be with a few arbitrary nods to ‘youth culture’ in the prizes, but being able to win a One Direction hairbrush doesn't mean this is catered to young audience members. Robertson seems to get off on screaming ‘bullshit’ in the faces of children. The title appears to be little more than an excuse to have an earlier time slot.

However, that doesn't mean kids won't enjoy it. On the day I saw, the children revelled in Skeletor’s rambunctious cussing, gasped with delight when he insulted parents, became frenzied when joining in with the chants. The game format works well for different ages to interact with, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the younger players figure out the tricks much quicker than adults. I'm not at all surprised many wanted to buy the t-shirts with ‘ya die, ya die, ya die!’ written on afterwards.

If you are a parent looking for a family friendly show, you should be aware that there is no safe script here. That might be a good thing for you, and it will certainly give you a memorable experience unlike the more standard kids shows out there. Just don't go if you don't want to be shouted at about divorce, decapitation, or Russian dictators (yes, really). 

Reviews by Lily Lindon

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The Blurb

You and your family are stuck inside a live-action video game! How will you escape?! Pick options off the screen in this fun, fear-filled interactive adventure. Will you: A) Find light switch? B) Scream? C) Kick a Pokemon? If you win, there are terrible prizes! But if you lose, The Dark Room keeps whichever of your parents you like less. With over 4M YouTube hits and sell-out shows worldwide, this is a bonkers game show for families featuring challenges, danger and jokes about Minecraft (unless they threaten to sue). Can you escape the Dark Room?

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