“Rooms – A Rock Romance” at the Finborough Theatre

Receiving its European premier at the Finborough Theatre Rooms – A Rock Romance is written by husband and wife team Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon. A straightforward love story, set against the backdrop of the music business, it sees two Scottish singer-songwriters battling to find a balance between their careers and their relationship. Starting in 1977, it’s a pretty mad affair, which takes its inspiration from anarchic times. If energy is what you’re looking for you’ll find it here, with spirited performances from the dynamic duo of Cassidy Janson and Alexis Gerred.

After falling in love at first sight, Monica and Ian travel from Glasgow to London and then New York. From the pairs’ early gigs at Bat Mitzvahs to brief success on the punk and New Wave Scenes and a spell trying out cabaret, Rooms is more than a ‘Rock’ musical – there are so many styles it’s a little confusing, and the music fails to take hold. Similarly, the lyrics are quirky to say the least: a bizarre mix of the high falutin’ and the mundane. But the cast give their best in every scene and the pacey direction from Andrew Keates is a triumphant use of speed – at about 80 minutes long its difficult to spot exactly what’s awry. The whole thing keeps you on your feet and entertained.

Rooms has a sense of humour: an early concert for the Jewish community is called “let my people go go”, while the punk band is named ‘The Diabolicals’. But the laughs sit uneasily with serious issues touched upon, including abortion and alcoholism, dealt with so briefly that they have little emotional impact. The characters are appealing; Janson and Gerred’s commitment, if not their accents, is great, but they are an odd couple. Ian is an agoraphobic rock star and Monica a punk yet her idols are Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon. You can’t help but admire the ambition here, but even the show’s highlight, a hilariously inappropriate Bat Mitzvah song about bisexuals, is a little too crazy to succeed.

Until 18 May 2013

www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Photo by Scott Rylander

Written 26 April 2013 for The London Magazine

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