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The Room: The Play/Live Reading

Posted by David on June 16th, 2011

The Room is simply the best bad movie that’s ever been made. It is the single most confusing, slipshod film I’ve ever witnessed, but simultaneously the most entertaining. It grabs your taste in cinema by the left testicle, flips it ass-up, then takes a crap on its face before convincing you it’s chocolate mousse. Think that doesn’t make sense? Then you obviously haven’t watched The Room.

Briefly stated: The Room is the Citizen Kane of bad movies. A cult following has continued to grow around it and its strange ringmaster, Tommy Wiseau, since it debuted in 2003. What began as a poorly-made drama has slowly turned into a late-night moviegoing experience resembling the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in its level of insanity and avid audience participation. However, comparing Rocky Horror and The Room is like comparing cotton candy to a heap of steaming dung.

The differences between the audiences is just as stark. Rocky Horror audiences are as delightfully campy as the film, playing along, dancing, and partying. The Room audiences serve as a critical hive mind, lashing out at plot inconsistencies and the weird vein which pulsates out of the lead actress’s neck. All in good fun, of course. We’re along for the ride, and we love what we simultaneously loathe.

The Room: The Play/Live Reading continues this awful, yet amazing tradition. Performed by Tommy Wiseau (writer/director/weirdo/producer/star of The Room) and  Greg Sestero (producer/cheater/star of The Room) it is by no measure a “good play”. It is, however, the single most entertaining live event I’ve ever attended. I mean that truly and deeply. It’s stupid, it’s silly, it’s chaotic, but more than anything, it’s a damn good time. If The Room: The Play/Live Reading were a train wreck (and it is), the train would be made of balloon animals, the passengers would be clowns, and every single one of them would be a little drunk, except the conductor, who’d be completely wasted.

It’s exactly like seeing The Room in theaters, but amplified by having live people on the receiving end of catcalls and group chants, and they’re good sports about it. The lunatic-filled audience ran the asylum. It teetered into bedlam at a couple of points, with members of the audience rushing the stage for a party scene, and Wiseau repeatedly stripping down to a wife beater. If you thought his body was terrifying on DVD, add 8 years of aging and put it 8 feet away from you. At least he didn’t show us his ass.

As far as the actual play is concerned, there are a few things worth pointing out. First, Wiseau was visibly drunk for the first half of the play. Either he’s a pro at acting drunk and broke character halfway through, or the guy was seriously blitzed. Since we all know he can’t act, it was almost certainly the former.

Two, Greg Sestero didn’t play Mark in this performance. He played himself. As confirmed in a conversation with him after the play, he was basically saying all of the things he wanted to say during the movie. He was effectively an extension of the audience, with a similar level of snark and self-awareness. They ate it up, cheering loudly at several lines. He was the discerning asshole that fans craved, and The Room: The Play/Live Reading deserved.

Finally, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the entire cast, with the exception of Wiseau and Sestero were cast the day before, and found via ads on Craigslist. Some of them barely knew their lines. It was admitted that this was not only the first performance, but the first run through. Considering they’d never done the play before, it held together, despite the character Lisa repeatedly calling the character Johnny “Tommy” because that’s his actual name. At one point, a girl was reading straight from her script, when Johnny emerged, he grabbed the script and threw it into the audience. The response resembled what happens at a wedding when the bride tossed her bouquet only to find out that she invited one too many of her desperate single friends. I wonder if the script had a similar effect for the lucky fan who ripped it from the hands of another.

In the end, this was exactly what we’ve all come to expect of anything associated with The Room; this sort of Wiseau-brand chaos focused by the lens of Greg Sestero. There’s a reason they’ve been working together for nearly a decade: it works. Sestero is in on the joke with the rest of the audience, and Wiseau is a willing ham. A muttering, eastern-European jester. I’m not sure he gets it, but he revels in it, and the audience loves him, and his gnarled body, for it.

All bad acting and whatever pretense is associated with The Room aside, Wiseau and Sestero understand what they’re doing now. Well, Sestero does, and as a result this play is an absolute delight. Looking for culture or class? You have no business going anywhere near this. In fact, I’m surprised you’re reading this right now. Looking to have a couple of beers and have a silly, spoon-hurling good time? You really have no reason not to see The Room: The Play/Live Reading. Although I can’t promise that Tommy won’t show his ass. That’s just how he rolls.

One Response to The Room: The Play/Live Reading

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