We go to the theatre; we sit in the dark together; we watch the same play, go home and tell our friends (who probably agree) our opinions about said play, but how much do you really know about the other people in the theatre with you? The power of The Royal Court’s new experimental play is that it takes the audience from their seats in the front row to being stood on the stage, attempting to work together to solve problems, which explore the lack of diversity in contemporary theatre.
The decrepit design of the room on stage and the anxiety inducing fast paced music help create the necessary atmosphere of tension within the ‘room’ you are trying to ‘dismantle.’ Occasionally, however, the pacing of the escape room aspect of the play seemed a little off and could have built in tension towards the end instead of trailing off.
Whilst people were initially shy the fun escape-room-esque puzzle-solving at the start, helped break the ice before the group were asked to make difficult decisions about diversity. These questions, ranging from which theatrical figures you would save from assassination, to what you would like to see change in theatre, were interesting. However, in places they felt as if they required a little too much insider knowledge of theatre to be accessible to all.
People seemed artifically on their best behaviour with everyone told at the beginning of the show to think about their privilege when giving opinions. This meant people might normally talk over others, instead chose to stay silent – this was great for actual discussion, but also meant some people felt as if they were holding back on their true opinions which might have helped delve deeper into the topic. That being said, I felt I definitely learned something about how we can change our theatre to be more diverse, from discussion on how audiences view theatre about minorities, to listening to others opinions on diversity.
This play has stretched the bounds of what theatre can do. Whilst in some places it felt a little unpolished, it is ultimately worth going to see, and experience, as a piece of experimental theatre and would be fun for anyone who enjoys a bit of tense discussion. I hope this form will be reused in order to explore other areas of social conflict and hopefully become more adept and innovative.
Dismantle This Room runs until April 27th and you can get tickets (from £1-£18) here.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor