A Rocky Romance at Finborough Theatre
Rooms is full of energy but low on surprises, says Penny Flood


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Rooms is a vigorous retelling with music of the old, old story – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again.

Two young musicians, Monica (Cassidy Janson) and Ian (Aexis Gerred) are living the dream. They go from Glasgow to London where they meet Joe Strummer, embrace punk, make a hit record and take New York by storm. Then they fall in love and it all goes wrong.

The energy exuded by these two young people is breathtaking, as they hurl themselves into their roles.

They’ve both got lots of zip, are lovely to look at, move beautifully and have fabulous voices. And they’re supported by a talented four piece band who play a keyboard, guitars and percussion for the whole 80 minutes.

Rooms at Finborough Theatre

But in spite of all this, it didn’t do it for me. It is more opera than traditional musical as the story is told through the songs.

That is one of the problems, as all the musical numbers are listed in the programme so you know what’s coming next. This spoils the surprises there should be in major developments affecting Monica and Ian’s characters.

Even a twist at the end is flagged as the show opens with the end of the story, before going back to the beginning.

Another problem is the music itself, it lacks variation, so every number begins to sound the same, even when they switch to punk.

It’s set between 1977 and 1980, the time of Abba and Neil Diamond as well as Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer. A few weaks in the music could have reflected this.

And I thought the script relied too heavily on Jewish jokes for the humour.

Since it opened in New York in 2005 it’s been nominated for a string of awards. This is its European premiere and, despite my criticisms, I’d say we’re very lucky to have it at the Finborough.

Rooms is on until May 18 and the booking line is 0844 847 1652

Book online here.


May 2, 2013