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John Robertson - The Dark Room
Published on Tuesday, 25 June 2013
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preview

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
Comedy
1-13, 15-25 Aug, 8:40pm-9:40pm

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

How to describe The Dark Room? In 2012, we settled for “innovative, funny, exciting, dark-as-hell brilliance”. An unexpected word-of-mouth hit last year, The Dark Room is a lo-fi improvised game show, hosted by Aussie comedian John Robertson. Describing himself as “a brutal Old Testament God, who loves grammar and hates you”, Robertson invites selected audience members to navigate a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style maze – in the hope of escaping the eponymous “dark room” and winning a real-world prize.

The humour’s dark, the storyline’s surreal, and the production values are intentionally terrible… but the whole experience is very, very funny. Like a psychotic cross between Chris Tarrant and Brian Blessed, Robertson is a domineering and vitriolic quiz-master, revelling in his power over his hapless volunteers. In our review last year, we described him as sensational at what he does – managing to infuse his often-insulting commentary with an impressive wit and energy, which ensures he keeps his room full of willing victims thoroughly entertained.

As you may have guessed already, The Dark Room is the very definition of “acquired taste”, and if you’ve never in your life picked up a Fighting Fantasy book the genius of its premise may pass you by. But if you mis-spent your youth in the right kind of way, we thoroughly recommend this year’s re-run. Last time round, in fact, there were plenty of people who went back time and time again; in reality as well as fiction, it seems, once you’ve entered The Dark Room it’s surprisingly hard to leave.

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