Within moments of arriving outside the closed shutters on a quiet Borough backstreet we’re approached by men – they want the password, and once we’ve given it we’re in. It’s an old carpet factory, perfect for the sense of claustrophobia and dark dealings that CROOKS aims to create. The atmosphere is charged; the old lift creaks and clanks as we go down. There’s door upon door leading who knows where (if we go snooping, we’re told, they’ll f*cking kill us, so I resist the urge). We’re split into teams and throughout the next 90 minutes we’re tasked with extracting information from a bent rozzer, swapping two heavy, powdery briefcases over, playing a hand of Blackjack with the Don, scheming with his fur-coated wife and then slipping a vial of poison into a lurking glass of whiskey. It’s great entertainment, even if the pauses between each “scene” are a little drawn out in the dark, thumping downstairs saloon.
The Blue Room is a dark comedy adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s Reigen. It follows the changing identities of ten individuals laced together in a series of affairs. As they discover their sexual identities and battle their desires, their social statuses change beyond recognition. Schnitzler, who was held in high regard by Sigmund Freud, became a writer after having studied medicine in his home land Austria in the late 1800's. This was a time in which social class drew a line between people that simply could not be crossed. Ironically, however, this was a time in which a quarter of men of the higher classes were regular patrons of brothels. While studying medicine, Schnitzler discovered that syphilis did not adhere to the hierarchy of social class and was spreading like wildfire. When Reigen was finally first publicly performed in 1920 in Berlin, Schnitzler received violent reviews and was reviled as a pornographer. Naturally, the French adored it, adapting it as La Ronde for film as well as stage, alongside several other adaptations later on under different names, following a period in which Reigen temporarily fell out of copyright. David Hare's adaptation brings an edge to the classic tale, introducing new contemporary characters. THEATRE HOUSE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS DAVID HARE'S THE BLUE ROOM FROM THURSDAY 10 MARCH IN MAIDENHEAD