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ROOM (UK 2017 / Canada 2022). My adaptation of my 2010 novel--my fifth full-length play--has songs by Cora Bissett and Kathryn Joseph. It was one of three finalists for the Carol Bolt Award for Best New Canadian Play, and was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Lighting Design; Alexis Gordon won the Best Actor Award for the role of Ma.

Cast: one boy, three men, three women.

ROOM the play based on the novel by Emma Donoghue ROOM the play based on the novel by Emma Donoghue ROOM the play based on the novel by Emma Donoghue
(c) Scott Rylander, 2017 (c) Scott Rylander, 2017 (c) Scott Rylander, 2017


Room (revised edition, London: Bloomsbury, 2023; first edition, London: Oberon Books, 2017).


The world premiere of Room, directed by Cora Bissett, was co-produced by Theatre Royal Stratford East and Abbey Theatre Dublin in May-July 2017.

Room went through extensive development and rewriting for its North American premiere production, which after two years of Covid-related delays came to the Grand Theatre in London Ontario and Mirvish (Princess of Wales Theatre) in Toronto in 2022.



'A heart-warming, heart-wrenching adaptation that feels right at home on stage' - Broadway World

'Room soars! Visually arresting and emotionally rich, Emma Donoghue’s Room is boldly realised for the stage … harrowing … astonishingly moving. - Toronto Star

'Emma Donoghue's adaptation of her novel works beautifully onstage, and the songs capture heightened moments with sensitivity. A story of survival and love — something we all need to hear more of at this time.' - Now Magazine

'It’s a tough sell, a full-length not-musical about imprisonment and trauma. But it has it all — tension, heart, whimsy, and talent. … A bracing, transformative theatre-going experience and a true masterclass in what one can accomplish onstage. … breathtaking, stunning — a tour de force. Room makes you feel big, authentic feelings: I cried more than once, to be sure. And that, there, is the power of live theatre.' - Intermission Magazine

'An artistic triumph, a brilliantly constructed and performed play ... a different experience than reading the book or watching the film, but arguably more powerful and entertaining ... Seldom is a play adapted from a novel as fulfilling and rich an experience as the original read, but Room is.' - London Free Press

'The most striking thing about Emma Donoghue’s stage version of her award-winning novel, Room, is its intense imaginative quality… Kathryn Joseph’s songs, co-written with Cora Bissett, burst from the texture of the play like some heightened form of speech… The story of Room is in some ways a harrowing one, that brings many in the audience to tears. Yet it is also a tremendously beautiful, vivid and uplifting show about the power of a mother’s love.' - The Scotsman

‘A strangely moving work about the power of imagination and the pain of adjustment to a new reality. … I found the prospect of the play intimidating. In the end, I was deeply touched by its testament to human resourcefulness.’ – The Guardian

‘Haunting and reflective music and lyrics. They emerge naturally from the narrative … Compelling viewing (even in you know the ending.) This coproduction… is a triumph.” – The Times

‘Thrilling, emotive and theatrically inventive adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel. While the 2015 movie version embraced realism, her stage version celebrates the original's inherent theatricality... In a coup de theatre, Little Jack is shadowed by Big Jack who provides that narrative voice. It's a deeply satisfying device that helps drive the drama while remaining true to the spirit of the source work. Ma's inner monologue is expressed in song and Bissett and Kathryn Joseph's musical numbers add a further dimension to Donoghue's gripping story.’ - The Stage

'An affecting work, one that will be warmly received by audiences‘ - The Irish Examiner

'A moving play that’s reinforced with somber, sensitive songs… Several things about ROOM lend it to the stage: the extreme sense of space inspired by this harrowing story (first confinement in one room and then release into the ‘normal’ world), the story’s stark two-act structure, the intimacy and tension of the relationship between Ma… and Little Jack; the strangely magical inner voice of the boy commenting on the world as he sees it… vital, imaginative theatre.' - Time Out

‘ROOM, first a novel, and last year a movie, is peculiarly well suited to the stage: is, indeed, an image of the theatre … Donoghue’s originality lies in showing imprisonment through a child’s eyes.’ - The Observer

‘Why would anyone fall in love with a story about a five-year-old boy and his mother, imprisoned in a shed for seven years by a systematic rapist? The answer is ‘the boy’ – and so it is again in Donoghue’s stage adaptation.’ - Daily Mail

‘The horror and hold of ROOM mounts slowly, insidiously as the drama unfurls… Intense and claustrophobic, this gruelling performance is a masterclass in portraying the limits of human endurance – and a demonstration of the power of imagination.’ - Newnham Recorder

‘The empathy and bite are keen… Both prurience and sentimentality are admirably kept at bay.’ - The Independent




Anne Fogarty, 'Ripping Up the Original?: Fictional Adaptations in Contemporary Irish Theatre,' in The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance,' eds. Eamonn Jordan and Eric Weitz (2018), 501-15.




'Emma Donoghue's Room at the Grand Theatre' [video including rehearsal clips], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQVI-1OYCiU&feature=youtu.be

'Run, Jack, Run - Full Cover by Alexis Gordon' [video of full song recorded in rehearsal], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo5xd9hLOes