As month three of quarantine reluctantly trudges along, Roustabout Theatre’s (It’s Not All) Zoom and Gloom braves the boredom with a lively respite of uplifting fun. Written and directed by Toby Hulse, the children’s show follows a group of friends trying to soften up their cynical (yet ever-gullible) friend after a lonely time in quarantine.
Though the show never quite breaks the fourth wall, the performance still feels impressively interactive through exchanges with separate zoom accounts. From slideshows of better times to uncanny family portraits, the valiant efforts of Hannah, Sam, Alice, and Jake to cheer up their downtrodden friend Ben are as endearing as they are daft.
A humorous cast of characters weaves a plot of farcical miscommunications, dancing, and a few ghostly surprises along the way! Tuning in from Australia to the UK, the show’s cast pokes fun at the small miscommunications of online communication in a clownish, slapstick, and self-aware way that will appeal to anyone who has struggled with the techy gloom of configuring zoom.
The show also doesn’t pander to its young audience since the entire play feels like a relaxed, witty conversation; almost one that audiences have joined by lucky accident. This structure of the show is surprisingly easy to follow due to the cast’s commendable tact in entertaining through the minimal technical difficulties with scripted and improvised comedy. Timing performative and technical queues from flats across the world is already a challenge, yet creating an entire show in the middle of a pandemic almost deserves a medal!
The patchwork narrative’s silliness is really tied together by Robin Hemmings’ ease in powering through any possible awkwardness. Hemmings’ character of Ben teaches us all a lesson in patience and perseverance in tough times as his friends help him regain a positive attitude, while always remaining true at heart.
Overall, Roustabout Theatre’s (It’s Not All) Zoom and Gloom proves itself a worthy watch in this anxious time with a heartwarming message at the core of its clownery.
(It’s Not All) Zoom and Gloom was broadcast live on 13th & 14th June 2020, a recording will be available here shortly afterwards.