“Its entire cast and crew do not fail to give us a brilliant reflection of our modern society…

TW: Suicide

Chatroom, by Enda Walsh is a brilliant exploration of the isolated virtual world so many adolescents today grow up in. While Chatroom explores darker subjects such as suicide and depression, Castle Theatre Company’s freshers brilliantly navigate the tone of the show, creating a play that finely balances its darker undertones with humor and sophistication. 

The show is brilliantly staged by director Hedvig Webster. When you walk into the setting of Castle’s Bishop’s Dining Room, you are greeted with a single line of 5 chairs. Throughout the show, the chairs are moved into different formations to demonstrate a shift between scenes, or highlight the dynamic within the group between different moments. At one moment, you see Jim, played by Mitch Moisley, sitting on a chair away from the group, while the others, lined up next to him on one side sit together as Jim shares the difficulties he’s having with his mental health. This staging is just one example of the excellent direction that helps us, the audience, understand the isolation and loneliness Jim is feeling. The production uses minimal tech, which lends itself to the feeling of intimacy it intends to create. The show’s use of sound is seamless and lends a sense of reality. The lighting setup, designed by production manager Bethan Avery brilliantly creates a fourth wall between the audience and the actors, with lamps on either side of the front row creating an abrupt shift from light to dark.

The cast’s acting was phenomenal, with each cast member drawing you into the story in their own unique way. Their mannerisms accurately tackle the difficulty of staging an in-person production of a show that takes place entirely within online chatrooms. Oreofe Subair, depicting William, maintains a commanding presence throughout the show as we follow him through his journey from teenage cynic to cyberbully. Mitch Moisley as Jim is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show, perfectly capturing the struggle of a boy with a difficult family life and few friends, his final monologue bringing several audience members to tears. His intensity is perfectly matched by Ella Watson (Laura), who brings a touch of kindness and sentimentality to the show. 

The piece is at times difficult and at times funny, but the cast’s relentless devotion never fails to capture your attention. The play’s exploration of coming of age in a virtual era is something many of us can relate to and its entire cast and crew do not fail to give us a brilliant reflection of our modern society. 

By Adele Novak-Sandner

Chatroom will have its final performance at 20:00 on Sunday the 26th of November in The Bishop’s Dining Room, Durham Castle DH1 3RW

Photo Credits: Castle Theatre Company