Review: Chatroom

No Prophet Theatre Company' in Chatroom. Pic: Comp
No Prophet Theatre Company' in Chatroom. Pic: Comp
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CHATROOM, by Irish playwright Edna Walsh, received lukewarm reviews when Japanese director Hideo Nakata brought it to the big screen in 2010.

* * * *

C NOVA

But the cyberspace thriller about a group of teenagers who encourage each other’s destructive behaviour via the internet has always gone down well in theatres.

Skins alumnus Will Merrick has chosen to revive the piece, and the talented young director hits the mark with this dark and menacing play, which was previously an acting vehicle for former Doctor Who star Matt Smith.

The superbly-acted six-hander focuses on a group of teenagers who ‘meet’ in an online chatroom.

It begins with witty banter about Willy Wonka, JK Rowling and Britney Spears, but takes a darker turn as the script gives way to far more serious issues.

Depressed loner Jim (James Lewis) has found his way to a teenage suicide chatroom but is finding little in the way of help from moderator Laura (Edith Poor), who is happy to listen but isn’t permitted to offer advice.

Desperate for an actual opinion, he moves on to another chatroom, where he connects with the naive but nice Jack (Lachlan Boyd), recovering anorexic Emily (Amy Dunn), egomaniac William (Patrick Fleming) and the manipulative Eva (Serena Jennings).

As Jim tells the group he’s thinking about ending his life, we look on appalled as William and Eva do their utmost to push him over the edge, just for laughs.

Granted, Chatroom isn’t as zeigeisty as it was when first performed nearly a decade ago, but the issues it tackles - depression, suicide and cyber-bullying - are still relevant to today’s teenagers.

Until 25 August