Nuclear Roommates

Mon 24th – Sun 30th August 2015


Flo Layer

at 11:52 on 27th Aug 2015



Nuclear Roommates transports you to a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear detonation where two women, Riggs and Salter (Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders), struggle to survive. Dead Lads theatre company have labelled this piece as a ‘two-woman-poetry-play’ which sounds like an interesting idea; sadly the piece failed to live up to the promising idea of ‘poetry’ and we were left with a stilted and badly acted piece, without a cohesive narrative to make it memorable.

Some of the monologues throughout the hour-long play featured promising signs of poetic talent. Chatfield’s performance of a piece on forgotten men, and Sanders’ thoughts on the missing children were both fairly arresting moments in an otherwise baffling play.

The use of the small set was at least imaginative and inventive. Salter’s ‘collection’ of small, useless and unnecessary objects become an effective focal feature, and Sanders showed some imaginative acting by resorting to childlike movements with her new found paper weight object. In general, however, both performers moved with a strange awkwardness around the stage, especially when entering and exiting, which really put the audience on edge. There was no confidence apparent in their performances.

A board game played between Riggs and Salter was an interesting feature that twisted a familiar game from our lifetimes into the unknown. The uncanny game culminated in an evocative move called ‘all your friends are dead’: not the most subtle of metaphors, but as the cards were tossed down one by one it was at least a fairly poetic way of demonstrating the roommates’ loneliness.

In the final scenes, where the audience may have expected a chilling climax, there was instead a confused and disappointing argument between the characters. Neither character demonstrated any sort of conviction in their anger, nor did their shouted insults come across as sincere in any shape or form.

At the end of the show Sanders and Chatfield mentioned that they have written and created some adventures stories based in the same world as the play. Indeed, I can’t help but feel that Sanders and Chatfield’s piece might be more suited to paper – collect the original ideas, develop a cohesive narrative and really push on the poetry side, and they might just create an enjoyable dystopian fiction. On stage and with really poor acting, it really isn’t going far very soon.


Louis Shankar

at 12:40 on 27th Aug 2015



I don’t really know how to start this review: ultimately, Nuclear Roommates was awful and, if I hadn’t been reviewing it, I would have left after ten minutes. Looking back, I don’t really know what the play was about or what happened in the fifty minutes I was sat there. There was probably a metaphor in there somewhere but, again, I have no idea what it was.

It is apparently a play about two housemates in a post-apocalyptic world, where the sun has destroyed everything, but there is little cohesion or progression: a few things happen but with very little consequence. More importantly, though, what little plot there is makes no sense; there’s no explanation of the whole scenario and the unravelling story only complicates matters further.

There were a few moments of interesting scripting; billed as a ‘poetry play’ (whatever that means), there were short bursts of genuinely moving writing. A particularly good scene involved the two characters delivering interlocking monologues. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the play had a similar tone, as if the two actors weren’t talking to each other but rather just talking next to one another.

The acting as a whole was wooden and one-dimensional; initially, I thought the characters were deliberately stilted due to the awful, dystopian scenario but by the end it seemed they were just poorly performed. For a pair living together in a world where no one else seemed to be alive, they had remarkably little chemistry; sometimes they hated each other, other times they felt like best friends or lovers, but mostly they seemed as if they’d just awkwardly met on the street and didn’t know what to do.

At its core, Nuclear Roommates has an interesting idea, albeit clichéd. It failed to deliver, though: I felt that I was suffering through the production, willing the characters to walk out into the deadly sunshine just so it would end. The actors seemed as if they’d only just read the script; the direction was awkward and often felt absent, with the performance just happening without any purpose or reason. Perhaps, by the end if its run, this will be ironed out, but even then the nonsensical script makes it difficult to endure.


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