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The Boring Room at Vaults, London – ‘insubstantial and meandering’

Jamie Laird and Michael Keane in The Boring Room at Vaults, London Jamie Laird and Michael Keane in The Boring Room at Vaults, London

What do you get if you lock Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe in a room together? Frustratingly little, it seems.

Comedy writer called Olly Allsopp’s first play revels in the tropes of crime fiction. The Boring Room consists of three sections. In the first, the three greats of the detective novel try and figure out how – despite not actually being alive at the same time – they’ve ended up trapped together. In the second, a policeman interrogates a young man who may or may not be guilty of some unspecified crime. In the third, Allsopp enters Raymond Chandler-land, the bourbon-soaked world of the private investigator and the femme fatale.

But while there are a couple of solid comic lines and the writing exudes a love of the genre and its potential for telling stories about justice and human nature, what’s lacking is an over-arching sense of purpose.

Tom Crowley’s production feels disjointed, in large part because the structure of the play is disjointed – none of the three scenarios is given enough room to grow or go anywhere interesting and the abundance of non sequiturs in the script doesn’t help in this regard.

The cast do a decent job of playing the various archetypal characters, particularly Emily Stride, who does a lot with what she’s given, but this is a weirdly insubstantial piece given the potential richness of the subject matter.

Providence review at Vaults, London – ‘a richly theatrical homage to HP Lovecraft’

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Meandering comic play drawing on the tropes and themes of detective fiction fails to capitalise on its promising concept