A small dark room in the basement of Gilded Balloon‘s gothic Teviot’s building is bound to create a tinderbox of tension. The Dark Room (For Kids!) grants permission for children to vent their frustrations at life in a therapeutic mass of screaming. Who doesn’t hate their parents and want to shout: “Ya Die, Ya Die, Ya Die!” endlessly under the cover of darkness? This is perhaps much required, mandatory family Fringe therapy.
Master of ceremonies John Robertson whips the crowd into a feeding frenzy based on the strong scent of metaphysical death. The audience chooses the twists and turns of the game based on a number of choices to get out of the dimly-lit (and quite hot) ‘cell.’
The format is based on a live-action text adventure game and is fast gathering a cult following on YouTube. Robertson is excellent in his sci-fi, bondage, as a crazed, Red Dwarf-like character. So scary, and yet so weirdly considerate, offering prizes of pineapples, carpets and health and safety advice. A few ‘choices’ might lead to conversations about sexual practices with your kids, but generally, despite being advertised as a show for ages 12 and over this is fine for slightly younger ones (as long as parents are a little on the liberal side!)
You will either love it or hate The Dark Room (For Kids!) and my young wee reviewers were slightly over it after the hour finished (‘hot, loud and hectic’). The basic simplicity of the game itself becomes slightly wearing with its relentless repetition as it works its way through endless audience participants. But the majority of blood hungry crowd were visibly buzzing. A tired Fringed-out parent could afford a quick snooze in the dark if wasn’t for the shouting and wailing of a staggering number of children named Darren. This is like a mad game show for kids high on sugar. Young budding gamers will love it.