I had the great pleasure of be invited to attend and review a performance of JustTalk Theatre Company‘s production of The Room (one of Harold Pinter’s earlier works) at Joshua Brooks in Manchester, and raising funds for The Alzheimer’s Society.
I will admit to never having heard of this play before and I was very intrigued to up my game a little in this regard. I did leave the performance feeling incredibly confused, though I was relieved at the end to discover that even the production team and cast felt the same!!
The beauty of this, I now know, is that it is so much open to interpretation and different stagings. It’s a play that you can have a lot of freedom with and in the Q&A afterwards, we learnt that characters were able to have back-stories created for them quite liberally and that once they were able to see that they could approach this from an Alzheimer’s perspective everything else “clicked” (I’ve also read online some productions linking it with the idea of death – showing how versatile this material is).
In truth this does make it a little harder to “review” as everyone will take a different message from it.
What I can review, however, was the fantastic cast including Lucy Ross-Elliot who shows great stamina in the lead role as Rose (and who doesn’t get a second off stage, bless her!), Nick Pearse as Mr Kidd and (perhaps strangely) my favourite character Bert Hudd, played by Ethan Martin.
Produced by Catt Belcher and directed by Kezi Gardom, I found the staging and environment to be very appropriate – the audience surrounding Rose in the darkness outside as if we were watching her – which could link to the idea of paranoia too.
Last night, I did wonder why the stage wasn’t used and the production was in the round but thinking about what I’ve written above (which could, of course, be absolute rubbish – I admit!) but other than that, it was hard to watch, but in all the right ways – nothing jarred and there was a great turnout for what I now understand is one of Pinter’s greatest “debate plays”.