Review: The Dark Room, New Diorama ****

The Dark Room brightens the small stage of the New Diorama with finesse and energy. David Byrne’s intelligent comedy has an inherent cynicism and reality as Byrne leads the audience through Ruth’s days at a new school. The character’s thoughts, feelings and reactions are revealed in a typically Brechtian fashion, inevitably manipulating a degree of sympathy for his monstrous protagonist. The play successfully offers an artificial reality which allows the audience to distance themselves from the victims and enjoy their downfall as an entertainment shared between themselves and Ruth.

The production emphatically sweeps across the stage interacting with the audience and developing the narrative with zest and precision. Each performer is slick in their transition between characters and works tirelessly to move the set and performance through to the next scene. Each actor’s enjoyment in generating the world of play transcended into and filled the audience simultaneously. The performances served the writing’s comical social commentary through a filter of artifice without isolating or distancing its audience.

the dynamic ensemble worked furiously and carried the audience along on a comedic tale of deception and scorn

The sound-scape is generationally specific to a Nineties video game giving the space an additional layer of simulation and rousing a reminiscent enjoyment from its older audience members. Matt Campbell’s carpentry added an extra dimension to the performance with two large blackboards being whisked into position to frame each performance space, and shift the narrative in a blink of an eye. Simply lit, the dynamic ensemble worked furiously and carried the audience along on a comedic tale of deception and scorn.

Unwaveringly Brechtian in direction and performance the piece makes no attempt to find a truthful reality. The play provides an entertaining world which is constructed to be critiqued and mocked throughout. PIT’s vivacious production will be enjoyed by those expecting to be given a show rather than to be taken along a journey; between the energized performances and Byrne’s brilliantly witty one-liners the audience can do little else but take pleasure in the manipulative cruelty which the play exploits deliciously.

**** (4 stars)
Runs until 28th April
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