Tuesday, 22 October 2013

What I saw, you won't see: The Rabble's ROOM OF REGRET

Room of Regret
Photo by Guy Little


I want to tell everybody to rush out to see The Rabble’s Room of Regret at Theatreworks.

But I need to warn them they will not see the show I saw.

I want to try to explain what I saw and how I felt.

But I don’t want to give anything away.

I want to see it again.

But I don’t.

Room of Regret, The Rabble’s response to Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” is an immersive theatre piece that explores notions of vanity – but refuses to let you see the whole picture. The audience is broken up into small groups, led to one or other of the many rooms – and then the show asks the viewer to confront hilarious, graphic, absurd and brutal scenes, while refusing to give anything away. At least, to begin.

And yet I know some audience members never left the seat they were first assigned. I know some who were given freedom to explore, didn’t explore. I know there were moments too gross to watch and some too brutal to look away from.

Our reaction to theatre is always our own. We bring our own lives to that performance. Critics can’t be objective; their reviews are subjective – beholden to their own experiences. And theatre, that tricky and ephemeral beast, is always changing, never static. Each night will be different, because live performance changes with the energy of the actors and the energy of the room.

An audience can always change a performance. Do they laugh at the right or wrong places? What are the right and wrong places? Do they engage with one actor’s performance or another? Do they allow being taken by the hand from one room to another and another? Or do they slink quietly into their seats to just observe?

There was a moment early in my experience of Room of Regret that was dark and intimate and very confronting. And because of that moment, the rest of the show resonated with me in a deeply personal way. Had I been deprived that one moment, I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed the show. I’m not sure how I would have experienced it at all.

But because the veil had been lifted and my eyes were clear, I felt more deeply what they were saying about vanity and celebrity and self-perception and sexuality – in The Rabble’s own dreamlike/nightmarish way.

I could tell you about Room of Regret, but I’d only be telling you about the show I saw – which will not be the show you see. What I saw, I loved.

But, if you missed it, I couldn’t even tell you what you missed.


Room of Regret runs until November 3. I saw it last night at its first preview.

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