The Dark Room (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

The Dark Room

Hilarious YouTube skit made flesh by John Robertson

’You awake to find yourself in a dark room.’ Fans of John Robertson will be familiar with the refrain that plagues his fiendishly difficult – some say impossible-to-complete – tribute to the text-based adventure games of early 1980s computer gaming systems. The original games were notorious for being baffling ordeals that, as Robertson points out, ‘loved grammar and hated you.’ His passion for this near-Kafkaesque form of sadomasochism is present in the circuitous answers he provides to his captive audience of contestants: when volunteers confronted with their initial ‘dark room’ scenario choose the query ‘why?’ from a list of approved responses, he retorts, ‘Because it is dark, and it’s a room, and you’re awake in it.’

Clearly, this is a show that, despite having an almost literal terminal velocity (audience members ‘die’ with alarming frequency), might suffer in the transition from a series of sub-60-second YouTube clips into an hour-long show. Robertson is clever enough to have figured this out, and bolsters his solid core concept with a thorough build-up beforehand, prize-giving throughout and some great audience interaction/manipulation for the duration. That he’s a skilled stand-up performer is plain to see; he just so happens to have lucked out in channelling a subject he obviously loves into the live arena.

Underbelly Cowgate, 08445 458252, until 25 Aug (not 14), 8.40pm, £9–£10 (£8-£9).

The Dark Room

John Robertson: The Dark Room

An interactive video game courtesy of the cult stand-up.