When I see ‘one man show’ in the description for a production, it is usually enough to put me off, but when I saw ‘choose your own adventure’ before those words, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.
John Robertson’s The Dark Room has become an Internet sensation over the last couple of years, racking up millions of views and performing worldwide. The premise is simple: it is a text based ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game where you have to escape a dark room. From the get go you can see why it has become so successful on the web. Robertson comes on stage to WWE’s Triple H’s theme ‘The Game’ dressed up with enough spikes that would give Super Mario’s Bowser a run for his money. Before he has even opened his mouth, it is like all my gaming nerd dreams have come to life.
But if alarm bells are ringing in your head because everything I have just said in the previous paragraph sounds like foreign language, you should not fret. The Dark Room is a show that anyone can adapt to. Most of the show is in the dark (because of course, “you’re in a dark room Darren!”) and Robertson’s villainous type character is only illuminated by a light that you would find in someone’s garden shed, but you would not have it any other way. Watching as an audience member, you hope not to be chosen, but Robertson is weary of this and nobody is safe. At one point in the show he reveals that he has over 300 slide show options for anyone playing The Dark Room so you watch on with bated breath, wondering just what direction the show will go in.
Luckily the London audience took to the show immediately, and while the audience participation does bring the laughs, you have to marvel at just how brilliant Robertson is on stage. A show like this could go one of two ways but Robertson knows his target audience and goes for the kill straight way. He is sharp and quick witted with every audience reaction, from “4Chan Darren” (who has the most incredible ‘you had to be there’ moments of the show that almost made Robertson break character) to the fourteen and fifteen year old girls in the audience (to which he proclaims “the show is also very educational and life affirming”) he knows how to deal with any participant in The Dark Room. Additionally, Robertson’s mixture of topical comedy and old school references will make sure you leave the show with a great big grin on your face.
The Dark Room might not be the most conventional show, but it is a shining beacon of hope where it comes to innovative ways of bringing comedy to the masses, and you have to go and see the show in person because it has a different outcome every single time. It may be filled with retro references but nobody will get left behind in The Dark Room…well unless ya die of course.
The Dark Room was shown as part of Udderbelly Festival in London. For more information about other shows, visit udderbelly.co.uk