Review: John Robertson – The Dark Room, VAULT Festival

Not for the shy or retiring, John Robertson: The Dark Room is inordinate amounts of fun

“Ya die, ya die, ya die, ya die, ya die, ya die!”

As a child of the 80s, I grew up playing text-based adventure games on our lumbering slow and huge home PC and so the nostalgia hit from John Robertson: The Dark Room was absolutely real. But Robertson’s spin on it is that The Dark Room is the only live-action text-based adventure game in the world and given that the show has been playing festivals for over 10 years, it is clear he’s made this niche his own.

You wouldn’t know he’s been doing it for that long, as evidenced by the hilariously brutal sharpness of his comedy (seriously, the deluded self-confidence of those who sit right near the front at a show like this will forever escape me!). And Robertson’s ability to play off an audience is second to none, bouncing off any manner of interaction to leave us helpless with laughter and leaving us in no doubt as to who our comedy overlord/Dungeon Master is.

The conceit of the show is that willing volunteers get to play the game, to try and escape a dark room, by making a series of choices. Robertson provides banter before they start – somehow everyone is called Darren… – and accompanies their journeys with a megawatt-level of enthusiasm/mockery as the host. There’s prizes of sorts to be won but the joy is in the quality of the humour, both from Robertson’s quickwittedness to the satirical nature of the game itself.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
John Robertson: The Dark Room is booking at VAULT Festival until 19th March

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