Fringe Review: Ctrl Room

Jeremy Welch reviews Ctrl Room at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

This is an immersive theatre production from Black Hound Productions.  

Think Crystal Maze and you’ll be along the right track. The scene is the battlefield of the future and the role of artificial intelligence in battle.

The audience is separated into two different rooms by a troop of lovable cockney soldiers.  Each room is set up as a command centre with an array of wires cluttering the desk.  

The mission is read out to the audience, the primary aim is to get the computer working.  The group is provided with a systems map which shows which wires get plugged into the computer to make it work. Sounds easy?  It’s not.  

Whilst struggling with the wires the battle scenario is constantly updated by one of the actors. Decisions have to be made by the audience group. Once one decision is made a further complication arises involving more decisions.

It’s all great fun and the pressure really is on to come up with solutions to a complicated and fluid situation. It is role playing obviously but in military control rooms across war zones this is exactly what’s going on and decisions have to be made quickly and then changed or altered. It’s quite terrifying to see the consequences of bad decisions made by the group.

In the final part of the play the two groups rejoin each other to watch a short video recording from people that have actually seen artificial intelligence at work in the battlefield. Summed up perfectly by one of those witnesses: ‘I will never forget what I have seen.’

Ctrl Room is great fun and an enjoyable way to spend the evening.  

But beneath the giggles and mistakes made there is a serious underlying question. Is it morally right to use artificial intelligence in warfare against the weakness of human flesh?


Ctrl Room is on at Venue 358, 89 East Claremont Street, from August 8-13.

Tickets can be bought HERE.

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