The Dark Room for Kids review at Just the Tonic at the Community Project, Edinburgh – ‘genuinely, irresistibly dangerous’
Chalk this one up to a terrifyingly bad idea come ever so good. John Robertson, the shock-haired Skeletor of improvised abuse, has transformed his cult hit turned perennial Fringe favourite into a children’s show. Except he hasn’t. He’s doing the same show that regularly whips up a packed-out crowd of cider-slammed gamer geeks, and is just stuffing the room with giddy kids and gobsmacked parents instead – and it’s all kinds of awesome.
Looking for all the world like a mishmash of Space Marine and Frank’n’Furter, Robertson stalks the crowd, bellowing “Bullshit!” into the face of a 10-year-old and generally ripping through the room as he hosts the low-tech live video game that made his name.
Played for knowing grown-ups, it’s giggly late-night fun. Do the same set for children and it’s like a detonation – it feels genuinely, irresistibly dangerous. Parents be assured, there’s nothing to cause any (lasting) damage, but it’s an object lesson in not talking down to young audiences. Robertson acknowledges their humour, their willingness to engage and their resilience to 60 minutes of targeted torment. Old or young, newbie or battle-hardened regular, now you can all die together in a very dark room.