Dark, depraved and laugh-out-loud funny, Dark Room is a cleverly written and well-executed production. Performed in the intimate Etcetera Theatre above the Oxford Arms in Camden, the space fits well with the setting of the play. Set in a small dark room in an ordinary house in an ordinary street, we meet our 4 characters, A (Roger Perkins) B (Jim Mannering – Jim also wrote the piece) C – Rebecca Finch and D (Arthur Cull). D is the newest member of the Dark Room gang. He has been carefully selected and applied to join A, B and C – anonymity being very important, real names are never used – although secretly I have named them Trevor, Mike, Victoria and Dave!
The characters meet, pay their subs and talk about their favourite serial killers – they are all aspiring murderers, each of them dream about how to play out the perfect murder. In their meetings, they carefully identify select and stalk their mark.
The group, fan club almost, (I’m not sure what the collective noun for a group of aspiring serial killers is) resonates of working class, a small society, claustrophobia. They want to be different, they want to live out their deepest darkest fantasies, they live to kill, well, they say they live to kill… Curiously, we are told that they meet in A’s house, and to ignore any noise from the room above as it’s A’s sick older mother.
There is something really beautiful about the characterisation; something that reminds me of both the writing of Alan Bennett and Harold Pinter. The characters have been brought to life, all their twisted, depraved, sinister behaviours are accentuated and at the same time normalised. I find myself laughing at the ridiculous nature of these people, yet at no point did the piece feel forced, faked or unreal. This for me is a sign of all the ingredients; writing, acting, direction, and casting working in synergy. I can’t separate the performers, each of them delivered, were on-point. It’s a genuine ensemble piece where all elements are working together beautifully.
Although a low-budget production playing in the Camden Fringe, there has been great care and attention given to the production to the point we are watching people talk about how they are going to be carving up their victim whilst sipping tea in a mug that has a cute dog face on it.
This is a sensational piece, pacey, funny and I would put their character work and the script in the same category as films like Shallow Grave, American Psycho anything by Tarintino and some of Pinter’s more twisted plays like The Homecoming and The Dumb Waiter.
I am going to be looking out for more writing by Jim Mannering, if this is one of his first pieces then I am excited to read his work in the future. Dare I say it, but Marber and Pinter there is a new writer in town!
Review by Faye Stockley
A darkly comic thriller with guts. If you like your stories with a twist and your characters beautifully twisted,
then Dark Room is a must see at this year’s Camden Fringe.
In the basement of an ordinary house on an ordinary street, away from prying eyes, a group of extraordinary
people meet weekly to indulge their passion. When a newbie arrives the membership are diverted from the
regular squabbles. Desire is stoked and envy seethes. A project deadline approaches and the new recruit is
forced to make a permanent choice between light and shade.
Booking to 14th August 2017 – 8.30pm
Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, London NW1 7BU