Chatroom

Enda Walsh

Out of Town Productions

the Space on North Bridge

From 02 August 2013 to 10 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Seth Ewin

In a world of ever changing technology, of new smart phones appearing every other day, there would seem be little hope of a play that tackles a subject like the Internet staying fresh. Enda Walsh's minimalist approach proves that theatre can prove a surprisingly useful medium for conveying the darker side of modern technology.

Chatroom, now over eight years old, ancient in the tech world, with its simple speeches to the audience and an absence of any keyboards or screens, is even more relevant in a world of rape threats on twitter and facebook hate pages. It is a straightforard tale of bullying over the Internet in which the bullies aim is particularly evil.

The casting is good, the four bored teenagers from Chiswick who go by Jack, Emily, Eva and William are well played by slightly older actors who capture adolescence without overdoing it. They come across a particularly isolated and vulnerable individual who goes by the name Jim. They start to play with this unfortunate young man discovering his weaknesses and problems. Eva and William start to go further and their malevolent manipulation of the situation is as well delivered as it is terrrifying.

Eva is probably my favourite character, so heartlessly laid back and pushing Jim to the limits, not out of any especially malicious plan but more for the sheer hell of it. Jim is a very believable damaged youth; his monologues are almost like Alan Bennett's Talking Heads in style although without any of Bennett's humour. He does seem perhaps a bit whiny but this is simply how the part was written. Walsh keeps things quite black and white and has set up this very depressed character.

A truly scary play that does well to keep you guessing about the outcome right up until the end. A good morality tale for any Internet trolls out there.