Office Party at Pleasance

How to describe the spectacular feast that is Office Party? Undoubtedly it’s a show that rewards hearty, shameless audience participation. The old saying ‘you get out what you put in’ couldn’t be more true. It’s a boozy mash-up of comedy, cabaret, stand-up, entertainment, showcase..oh, go on then, throw ‘theatre’ in there too. It is undoubtedly the funniest and funnest show I have attended all year, yet I am certain that my enjoyment directly equated with the evening’s alcohol consumption (At least I didn’t throw up on stage, unlike one audience member.) Above all, it’s just like a real office party, marked by social awkwardness, department solidarity and one too many tequilas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon arrival at fictitious company Product Solutions Head Office (actually The Pleasance Theatre) the audience are now name-badged employees, separated into ‘departments’ under the leadership of a wonderful troupe of actors. There’s ghastly Helen from HR, dappy Rosie from Corporate&Social Responsibility, sassy Mandy from Marketing, and the grotesquely self-important CEO Mr Ryecroft – who begins the night pompously teetotal before a sharp, sharp fall. We bond with our Heads of Department, happily toasting our (invented) annual progress and bitching about the executives.

The usual collection of cringeworthy team games (balloons passed using no hands, that sort of thing), nauseating music and a few surprises ensue. Highlights include the half-man-half-woman song of show creator and director Ursula Martinez, and the motivational character speech of co-creator Christopher Green. And the Heads of Department each get their moment in the limelight, all desperate to prove what ‘good sports’ they are by dancing and performing for their captivated audience.

 ‘Employees’ tend to divide into those who are really getting into the swing of it, squawking with laughter and falling all over the place, to those slightly stiffly trying to ‘get involved’ without, actually, getting involved. Choose carefully which category you fall in. In this show, you will desperately try to engage with people you don’t know, and if you get into it, you’re in for one hell of a night. It’s a social experiment with a couple of truly hilarious twists – and don’t panic, because ‘whatever happens at Office Party, stays at Office Party’.

Review by Rozzy Unwin.

Office Party runs at Pleasance Theatre, Islington, til January 26th 2012. Book at http://www.officepartyshow.com/tickets-info/

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