4.5⭐ · Fringe Reviews 2017 · Reviews · Theatre Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Party’ by Ball Pit Theatre

4.5 Stars

This was a show I opted to see on a whim. I’d been leafing through flyers that morning, and noticed this show was finishing the same day. Given that all the other flyers I had were for shows that with longer runs, I thought ‘why not?’ and hurried off to get my ticket. (The fact that I thought the girl on the flyer was cute has nothing to do with it despite what some people might try to insinuate).

I expected the show to be decent, the flyer and description gave off that impression, and it was apparently an established script from a well-regarded writer. I’m not often one for taking in performances of existing plays at the Fringe but on this occasion, I thought I’d give it a try. What I didn’t expect was for it to be that damn excellent. The premise is simple; five students trying to set up a new political party in a garden shed (summer house). It goes from there, and it goes hilariously.

There was an effortlessness to the comedy that came so easy and naturally, and as much of that came from the skill of the cast as it did from the script they were using. All six members of the cast played their parts with a precise comic brilliance, and the dynamics between the opposing characters, particularly the lethargic social justice warrior, and high energy Trump-supporter (a small detail I assume is a recent addition given this play was written in 2010) give the long extended scene that comprises the play a continuous, bouncy momentum that never once drags or became tedious. 

The perfectly timed back and forths never fail to miss a beat, whether the characters were debating over party names such as The Righteous Brothers Party, Gladius (it’s Latin for sword), and The Friendly Party, or voting on whether or not the party is in fact in favour of China. I would say these are some of the strongest comic performances I’ve seen in all my three years at the Fringe, and I wouldn’t hesitate to put them as being on par with delivery I’ve seen in scenes from The Thick of It or Twenty Twelve/ W1A

Each one of the cast appeared completely at home in their role, though the actors portraying the bewildered Duncan, adorably vacant Phoebe, and ever-confident if slightly sleazy Jared are the standouts. Jared’s actor is a frequent scene-stealer, and gives one of the best, understated comic performances I’ve observed this year.

I’m always required to find something to criticise, so I will note that, for the first half, things were a tad static. This is likely part of the established script, and did, to an extent fit with the setup and dynamics of the performance, and a certain degree of movement came later on, so it was not especially to the performance’s detriment. 

A brilliant performance that does fantastic justice to Tom Basden’s script, but had a criminally short run. I wish I’d caught it earlier on so I could have encouraged others to see it. 


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