29 November 2017

The Dark Room at Theatre503

Like most things (if not everything) at Theatre503, The Dark Room sounded interesting. This time it was the news that it had won the Best New Australian Work in the Sydney Theatre Awards that most intrigued me. That was more than enough to get me to part with £15. Lots of other people were convinced too and the theatre was packed.

Wednesday is not a normal theatre day for me, those are Tuesdays and Fridays, so there was a slight change from my usual routine. I was able to escape the office early, at 5:15pm, and walk the scenic route home via Jaflong Tandoori to pick up a pre-ordered takeaway, arriving home just before 6pm. That gave plenty of time to eat before heading out to the theatre. Travel worked well and I got to the pub around 7:30 and I took a pint of Meantime Yakima Red with me upstairs to the theatre. I finished it before the play started at 7:45.

I was not quite the first one in when the doors were opened but I was in early enough to get my usual place in the middle of the front row.

The stage in front of me was set as a basic hotel room. Later they players called it a motel but I'll not argue over semantics. First two appear were a middle aged woman and a teenage girl. The girl had a bag over her head and was in some distress. The woman was a social worker and she was taking the girl to the hotel for her protection but the girl was not happy about it. Some hard talking followed on both sides before they reached some sort of calm.

Then another couple entered the room, oblivious to the two people already there. The couple were at a wedding party and he, a policeman, wanted to go out for more drinks with his colleagues while his pregnant wife wanted to go home having had an unhappy time at the party. This was a second story and this was either another room in the hotel or the same room but at another time. Then a third man entered the room and he was on his own.

The stories of the three sets of people then unfolded in the same room (or identical rooms) through a series of scenes the timings of which had to be worked out. It was something like putting a jigsaw puzzle together and, also like a jigsaw puzzle, the more pieces that were added the clearer the overall picture became. It was a neat trick and neatly done.

Some memes helped to string everything together, such as the many references to dogs, hence the dog in the poster. It was the intelligent touches like that which helped to make The Dark Room special, and it was special. And making sure that the story came to life as planned was an excellent cast.

The Dark Room fitted the Theatre503 house-style superbly and that meant that it fitted my needs too.

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