Theatre review: The Room Mate

Set in an American college dorm, this is a cautionary tale about the dangers of ill-founded gossip and well-meaning internet campaigns. Though unevenly realised, its message is valuable.

Star rating: ***

Venue: The Edinburgh Academy (Venue 70)

Paula and Seb have shared a room for ages. Lonely, overweight, depressed and agoraphobic, Paula regards Seb as her best friend. He’s her only friend. This room-bound social justice warrior lives vicariously through social media, seeking self-validation from how many ‘likes’ she receives for her viciously navel-gazing Facebook posts. Her overbearing political correctness is at odds with Seb’s outgoing irreverence (he’s an aspiring stand-up comic). The original odd couple.

Jeremy is even odder. When this seemingly antisocial eccentric moves into their dorm, a murky tangle of lies unfolds. Was Jeremy involved in the death of a fellow student? Paula becomes obsessed with solving the mystery.

Despite its weighty themes – suicide, rape, homophobia, mental illness – The Room Mate doesn’t have enough depth to sustain its needlessly lengthy running time. It becomes increasingly laboured and didactic as the writer strives to ensure that no one leaves the theatre without having understood The Big Point.

Nevertheless, it boasts a standout performance from Scottish actor Ryan Gerrard as Seb. He’s a name to look out for.


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