Altrincham Garrick Playhouse are proud supporters of
PAPYRUS with our production of Chatroom
A chilling, blackly comic tale of manipulation, cyberbullying and adolescent insecurity.
In a quiet corner of the internet, a group of bored, restless teenagers spend their time deconstructing children’s literature and the messages in modern pop music. But when a new member joins to share his depression and thoughts of suicide, the conversation takes a darker turn.
A powerful depiction of modern-day isolation and the dangerous power of technology, Enda Walsh’s play Chatroom formed part of the National Theatre’s 2005 Connections season, an annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. It received its first professional production in the Cottesloe auditorium of the National Theatre, London, in March 2006.
Performed by The Garrick Ensemble; a company of 18 – 30 year old aspiring actors from Greater Manchester and Cheshire who perform one production each year as part of the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse Main House Season. The Garrick Ensemble aims to make theatre that is fresh, innovative and exciting. See the very best of local, up and coming talent before they move forward in the next stages of their careers in the Arts.
**This play contains strong language and deals with topics including depression and suicide.**
Running Time: Approx. 75 Minutes (No Interval)
This amateur production of “Chatroom” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd. www.concordtheatricals.co.uk
Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
The national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone who is concerned about a young person who may be struggling with life.
HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.
For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email email@example.com
StageStruck – Rick Bowen
I STILL haven’t worked it out.
Whenever I go to review a production of a play or a show with a small audience it invariably falls into the outstanding category.
Chatroom is no exception.
For me, live theatre and TV drama is always at its best when shining a light on difficult issues and dragging the audience or the viewer into a darker world, a world you’re relieved to escape when you leave the theatre or turn off the TV.
However shocked you feel it can also be an enlightening experience as this evening in the company of the Internet generation is.
It’s oh so tempting to envy teenagers as they’re largely free of responsibilities and live to just enjoy themselves.
That’s a myth of course. Just ask Jim, the central character in Enda Walsh’s deeply unsettling but ultimately hopeful play.
Pining for a dad who suddenly and mysteriously went AWOL and nursing the psychological and physical scars of a difficult home life, this troubled teen is contemplating suicide.
Walsh’s brilliant script doesn’t dilute the difficult nature of this difficult topic while at the same time refusing to sensationalise it.
Rather he tells this absorbing tale with quiet compassion and you find yourself caring deeply about Jim, forever the outcast..
A young and dynamic cast more than do justice to this exceptional piece of work, expertly brought to the stage by Joe Meighan, the Garrick’s young and dynamic artistic director.
Star rating -****
North West End – Lou Steggals
What would you imagine to be on the agenda for teenagers chatting online? Rating current romantic crushes? How mean mum and dad are for not letting them out past 10?
Whether the fat German kid would be more likely to win Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory over Charlie Bucket might not feature on your list, but it is the first vignette of conversation we’re presented with as we join our six teen stars of Enda Walsh’s one-act play Chatroom.
Described as a chilling, blackly comic tale, Chatroom looks at themes of online manipulation, cyberbullying and teenage depression, as relatively innocent conversations dissecting children’s literature and pop music are punctured by the arrival of Jim, a young man struggling with suicidal thoughts.
This show marks the first production by the Garrick’s newly-formed, in-house ensemble which aims to give aspiring 18 – 30 year old actors from Greater Manchester the opportunity to deliver one show a year as part of the Garrick’s wider season. The cast consisted of Elyas Meekcoms (Jim), Olivia Brindley (Laura), Luke Robinson (William), Lizzie Lomas (Eva), Luke Bicknell (Jack) and Holly Gibson (Emily).
Given the sensitive subject matter of the play, director Joseph Meighan has been blessed with a very strong and talented cast, with the young actors showing a maturity and artistic skill beyond their years.
Aided by a smart set, and lighting design from James Merrington that highlights the sense of isolation, and clever touches with props (one teen swigs Red Bull, another, Capri Sun), each performer creates a distinctive character and there isn’t a weak link among them as they either seek to either goad or support Jim through his depression.
It is exceptionally done and, in an age where youth mental health has been badly impacted by the pandemic, is a timely reflection of the dangers of isolation and peer influence, both good and bad.
If anything lets this show down just a bit, it’s the musical interludes where, instead of snippets of music, we have entire pop songs that start to drag and risk killing the pace of the piece, especially as the accompanying movement is very repetitive.
Also, despite some of the cultural references being updated, this does feel like a play of when it was written (early 2000s). Chatrooms have given way to social media and the absence of this from the script lessens the sense of timelessness. If Walsh were to revisit his script for the post-coronavirus age it could give the show a whole new potency.
Nevertheless, the strength of performances still allows us to follow along a sadly familiar path where angst and insecurity can lead to cruelty, despite cries of ‘Be Kind’ from the well meaning, building to a palpably tense ‘will he, wont he’ finale.
The cast and crew are to be commended for delivering a powerful reminder of how easy it can be to fall prey to faceless internet trolls, whilst providing a thread of hope that there are also those willing to listen when we are at our most vulnerable.
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the issues raised in this play please visit papyrus-uk.org for further advice and support.
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★
Photographs: Martin Ogden
Save Money as a Friend of the Garrick
Find out how to save money, by becoming a Friend of the Garrick for as little as £20 per year.
Becoming a Friend shows your support for the theatre and can also open a whole new world for you.
If you want to get involved as a volunteer, we are always looking for new talent, any age, to work in all areas of the theatre. Whether volunteering on-stage, back-stage, front of house, in wardrobe, props, sound or lighting, or elsewhere, no experience is necessary because you will be given full training by our qualified staff.
We promise you the satisfaction of a job well done that will really surprise you, as well as promising many new friends waiting to meet you. Please pick up an Application Form from the Box Office or write to us at:
AUTUMN/WINTER SEASON 2023/24
Click on our digital brochure below. There is something for everyone!
Our box office and phonelines are open 11am-4pm and 6pm-8.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am-12pm on Saturdays.
Telephone 0161 928 1677 for box office queries, or book online.
Please keep an eye on our website for further updates and join our email mailing list to ensure that you are kept fully up to date.
We look forward to welcoming you.