Party Game, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

WARNING: SPOILERS (but you probably won’t want to see it anyway after reading what I have to say).

I have reservations as soon as I walk into bluemouth’s new immersive party show at the Wee Red Bar. Primarily because there aren’t many people there – never a good sign for a party.

We are setting up a surprise party. Cast members mill around helping us, raising glasses to the man we wait for and talking about “him” in a way that seems suspiciously like they don’t want to mention his name. We set out chairs. We learn to sing “his” favourite song (this part is awkward). We are given a little party manual.

Surprise, surprise, he doesn’t show up. The other guests argue, and then start telling us stories about how they first met “him”, which becomes an entirely unnecessary naked
dancing scene to represent a good time skinny-dipping. We learn of a relationship between two of the men in the room. We learn that one man regularly drives too fast. We are told to write down an anecdote, and 7 things we love.

Suddenly a poker game is announced. Six audience are selected, and have to gamble with their ‘loves’ on poker chips. This is quite a fun concept for six people, but for those standing around just watching, it’s tedious. The losers of the poker game have to either tell an anecdote (awkward), sing a song (really awkward) or take off some clothes (shoes and socks obviously).

One of the characters tells a long story about having to masturbate horses. If this advances the plot in any way, it is entirely lost on me. The acting is eye-wateringly terrible throughout.

Bluemouth’s 2011 show Dance Marathon was a revelation. It was fun, funny, interactive in a genuinely involving way, and it really felt like a party. This show is flaccid, not fun, and full of weird, terrible decisions. It feels bafflingly unfinished. Combine that with their attempts to invoke a party spirit with only 20 audience in a large bar, and you have a recipe for a pretty limp night out.

Party Game runs through 20 August.

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