ROOM – King’s Theatre

Created, Directed and Composed by James Thierrée 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So then, what’s this all about?

Ask us later.

But on the idea of ‘narrative’, there is obvious relevance to the mind of the auteur, to the creative process, and the eternal struggle of framing things precisely how we envisage. All we need to know is that this space we see before us is what James Thierrée calls his” room”.

Across the (just shy of) two hours, surrender over – it’s your only choice. Resist the urge to unpack and make sense of it all, or the entirety of the production becomes awash and frustrating. Never has it been harder to relax and enjoy, and never has it been more rewarding to do just that.

There’s only one place to start – within the twisted, supple, and genius mind of creator, performer, and director James Thierrée. With a rubber-face of comedy, and a stone-eye of tragedy, ROOM transitions across a spectrum of emotional states – each more intense and volatile than the last.

For those utterly desperate to claim they know what is going on – snippets of clues remain for those seeking to appear pretentious, to have ‘got it’. Occasionally calls from either a stage manager or perhaps a financier, interrupt the flow and momentum, allowing Thierrée the moment to reset before contorting and disarraying himself further.

Who would not envy the agility and poise Thierrée demonstrates, quite often without seeming to break a sweat. The world around him is ramshackle of the Theatre backroom – broken instruments, flats and stage boards all play a role in symbolising the cornerstones of the Theatrical world, Make-up and costume, props, scenery, and music. Without one, the piece wouldn’t be the same.

As lavishly hectic as set design and costumes are, music takes an important part throughout the production. From the operatic to blues, jazz to pop, electronica to gospel; Sarah Manesse is ROOM’s glorious lead vocalist, and her presence is the only which truly robs focus from our manic maestro Thierrée.

Emerging from the woodwork, eleven stage performers (with an additional seven stagehands/crew) appear across the stage, creaking out of every possible surface. The likes of dancer Ching-Ying Chien, Maxime Fleau, and Nora Horvath spring from the shadows, sometimes comical, often with mischievous or unhinged intent, or hanging from the ceiling in place of a chandelier.

Chaos is a tricky beast to master in choreography, often appearing contrite or too organised. Yet here, the behemoth feels entirely authentic. Rarely, if ever, do we have a sodding clue where things may go next. It sits on a knife-edge, soaking in the paranoia as the audience attempts to figure out where their eyes should settle.

This is, without question, a critic’s nightmare. We have cold sweats over shows like ROOM. Not out of a fear of their quality, but the degree of abstract qualities which become neigh-impossible to transcribe into being. For what little narrative sense there is, though there is a tremendous amount of abstract storytelling present, ROOM is a pinnacle example of European theatre at its most absurd. A hate letter to the changes agreed upon and forced, of ideas, and the compromises which occur across the creative process – to the extent that to the creative, their final product may never reflect their original intention.

So then, what was it about?

Ask us later…

‘A Critic’s Nightmare’

ROOM runs at The King’s Theatre until August 16th.

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

Photo Credit – Manon Bollery

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