Part of the Fierce Festival, 31st May 2003.

I saw Room Service by Gob Squad at the Howard Johnson Hotel in West Bromwich, as part of the Fierce Festival 2003. I arrived about 10ish, and paid my \xA35 for the show. Downstairs, there seemed to be lounge singers and entertainment, but eager to find out what was happening in the "Rooms", I hurried upstairs.

Room Service is a kind of interactive play, viewed on 4 TV screens. Action takes place in all four rooms at once, and the actors never leave the rooms, even when having dinner "together". Each has their own, wierd, personality, each seems to possess a kind of malaise. One, allegedly missing his family, phones the others and persudes them to dress up as his father, mother and sister and "attend" a family meal - all without leaving their rooms. The actors do their own camera work, flawlessly and almost invisibly.

The piece ran for 6 hours, from 8pm till 2am! By about 1:30, all but one of the characters were in bed, but "night-vision" on the camera allowed us to see them still.

Set in a bizare, magical realist world, the characters often mimed to popular songs, performing quite energetic and amusing routines. Some of the most interesting moments were the interactive ones though. In each room there is a phone. In the audience "lounge" there is a phone. The audience are the room service. If the characters desire a story, an idea for a song, participants for group sex or someone to dance with, then they phone room service and an audience member answers the phone. Among the visitors to the characters world was Tom Watson ( ) the Blogging M.P. for West Bromwich.... Before the tabloids seize on a "M.P. in Group Sex CCTV Scandal" story, I have to admit that he just went for a quick boogie!

I stayed right till the end at 2am, and although quite tired, I found the whole performance fantastic. The pace was good, with enough variety introduced by the interactions and songs to maintain interest. The actors were great, and I can't imagine how they managed to keep up such a good and tight performance over a 6 hour period. One of the best things I've seen in a long time.
Topic revision: r1 - 04 Jul 2003, andyp
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