The Finborough Theatre provides a fittingly intimate space for the European Premiere of ROOMS – A Rock Romance, a tale of unlikely romance between two Glasgow musicians in the 1970s. The show is a two-hander with a simple story that doesn’t need glitz and glamour in its staging, and therefore probably becomes more powerful by being seen in a smaller venue.
The plot is pretty clichéd, featuring as it does a mismatched couple, a heady 15 minutes of fame, alcoholism, an unplanned pregnancy, a break-up and a reunion. In fact, the formulaic storyline may be just right for a rock musical, fitting comfortably within the rock n roll ethos and traditional subject matter of the three-minute hit. It’s perhaps best not to overanalyse and just to enjoy the show as a series of (actually rather good) rock songs.
Cassidy Janson, as the ambitious Jewish rock-star-in-waiting Monica P. Miller and Alexis Gerred, as the borderline hermit guitarist Ian Wallace, are both excellent. Janson’s vocals are outstanding, showing both significant rock chops and a sweeter tone in the surprisingly touching interlude provided by "Happiness". Gerred is suitably dark and brooding whilst also hitting the high notes with aplomb and having a crack at acoustic guitar.
Mention must also be made of the four-person live band, on stage throughout and injecting plenty of energy (and on occasion a little humour) to the proceedings.
The stripped-back set design, just a split level stage and a few doorframes, allows the different rooms and stages where the action takes place to be effectively evoked – the simple act of passing through a doorway takes us to Ian’s bedroom in the ‘working class side’ of Glasgow, a grimy London club or Monica’s New York apartment.
ROOMS is enjoyable, and the performances are undeniably strong, but as a result of its forgettable storyline it’s probably not one that’ll stick in the memory after you leave the theatre.