The In-Person Theatre Review: Grand Theatre’s Room
After several shut-downs and rescheduling, due to the ongoing pandemic, Room at The Grand opens. In many ways this show mirrors today. Over the past 24 months, we have experienced isolation, grief, and loss. Room examines realities, how are they constructed? How can they be altered?
In Emma Donoghue’s adaptation of her novel of the same name, she explores the loss of youth, when a kidnapping occurs, and the ripple effects it has on self and family. In this music based-drama, we meet Ma and her son Jack in Room. They appear to be having fun, doing their routine, enjoying their time together. As the play unfolds, we learn why they are in the Room, what Ma has endured while there, and how desperate she is to escape.
As Ma, Alexis Gordon dives deep into the psyche of a new mother in unthinkable circumstances. Alexis’ powerful voice suites the songs, written as streams of consciousness. These musical moments don’t move the story ahead, but rather give the audience insight into the how the characters’ emotional state of mind. Kathryn Joseph has weaved the songs through the play without minimizing the storyline. The somber and uncomfortable feelings are elevated through the music.
Jack, Ma’s 6-year-old boy is portrayed by Lucien Duncan-Reid and Isaac Chan with youthful exuberance and warmth. Jack’s naive understanding of his surroundings is apparent but genuine. Jack’s conscious is sung by Super Jack, Brandon Michael Arrington. This character’s physical appearance is 15 years older but very much young in mind and spirit. Cora Bissett, who directed this production weaves Super Jack throughout the play with ease. Super Jack observes and participates equally often with mirror-like precision.
With a rotating stage, Room is visible, accessible from all sides, if not escapable. This adds movement and depth to the production while propelling the story forward, taking the audience through the house.
After over 2 years without live theatre, Room provided this audience member a wonderful evening’s escape into a world of sorrow and childhood, and family. Room asked me to think about my own upbringing, and how it shaped me into who I am today. Would we be the same people we are, had we not had any of our experiences? Would we view the people and the world around us differently?
By Emma Donoghue, based on her novel
Music & Lyrics by Cora Bissett and Kathryn Joseph
Directed by Cora Bissett
A co-production with Covent Garden Productions and Mirvish Productions, Toronto, Canada
Playing now through March 19 at Grand Theatre, London, Canada.