ROM.com

Wed 14th – Fri 16th June 2017

reviews

Cameron Wallis

at 12:50 on 15th Jun 2017

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ROM.com is an original play by Lily Lindon currently showing at the ADC theatre. The storyline is novel, the script well-written, and the staging clever. Lindon could certainly transform ROM.com into a longer play should she so please. However, perhaps due to it being the end of an exhausting exam term, the performance is weakened by uninspiring acting, as well as a number of technical problems.

The strongest member of the cast is Matilda Wickham, playing computer-game addict, Julie, with avatar name, Mary_Beard — an allusion to the Cambridge academic that could perhaps have been taken advantage of beyond one joke, rather weakly delivered by Noah Geelan as Anthony, though having Julie's avatar sporting a very fetching beard is an excellent touch. Wickham is supported by Benedict Clarke playing her love interest, Ian, who delivers a number of great deadpan jokes — particularly his sassy response to Flora’s joke, ‘How many computer scientists does it take to change a lightbulb?’ — although his performance is at times overly physical.

Maya Yousif plays Flora, a sadly undeveloped character whom it feels as though Lindon has either needlessly made attracted to Julie, or else has had to cut much of the plot-line that might build up to this moment in order to fit her play into the short hour she had. Certainly, of all the characters, Flora is the least convincing, the events in her plot-line not seeming to add up properly. Flora’s eventual love-interest, Anthony, is a very interesting secondary character, with some excellent lines, though he is sadly let down by Geelan’s tendency to blurt out lines as quickly as possible, rather than savouring comedic lines with a pregnant pause.

The play is well-staged and Charlie Morrell-Brown’s directing does a good job in bringing to life Lindon’s creation. However, there were a number of a technical difficulties on the first night, particularly regarding the content on the screen, and though this was well-handled by the cast, the lack of slickness meant that some funny moments were lost. Hopefully these technical creases will be ironed out for future performances.

The music between each scene is entertaining and well-suits the play's tone, though too often it was cut short, at least on the opening night. Scenes where the music runs on while the actors mime are some of the most successful ones.

Another of the plays assets is its use of video clips to show game footage, Lindon’s avatar creations forcing Clarke into wearing a phallic trunk for a nose. Many of the plays funniest moments occur on the screen, including Wickham continually running into a tree and a memorable spaghetti-eating scene.

It is clear that the cast and crew had a riot putting together this show, on the opening night Lindon’s own laughs filling the theatre at what were clearly a number of in-jokes. While it does not leave its audience in stitches or in deep thought, ROM.com does what it says on the tin. It leaves its audience mindlessly smiling, gratified by the conversion of a potential disaster into a happy, romantic ending, and though the acting is not great, if you fancy some lighthearted evening entertainment in your post-exam come-down, Lindon’s writing is sure to leave you with a benign smile on your face.

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