Party Skills for the End of the World, Shoreditch Town Hall

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by Laura Kressly

A make-your-own martini and a raffle for a gorilla novelty teapot is a great way to start a show. A massive game of musical chairs is a great way to continue it. And a fair of DIY, crafts and skills workshops is a blinding way to end it.

That’s not to say Party Skills for the End of the World is all fun and games. We’re also being prepped for the apocalypse. The juxtaposition of celebrating the simple joys in life like dancing, family and the smell of fresh oranges, and learning survival skills – how to stitch wounds, throw knives and escape being tired up – is a humbling reflection on modern life. We need to find the tiny pleasures in the daily grind, but also be prepared to fight for our lives.

A ensemble cast create striking images of good times and bad across the diagonal of a large, empty hall. The act of simply walking across the space makes a statement – we must keep moving forward, whether we’re at a party in high heels, or muddy and half dressed after an attack. Costumes become increasingly more surreal, but make sense in context of a disaster – wrapping ourselves in plastic sheeting may eventually be all we have left to protect ourselves against the elements. What can be seen as absurd or ridiculous in times of peace might be common sense in times of crisis.

Music and communal experience are used to reassure the audience, though like other elements of Nigel + Louise’s show, it’s a double-edged sword. Those who we play with could also be those we compete with for food, water and shelter. The show balances on the slack line between fun and danger with skill and precision, making for a complex and provocative evening.

Party Skills for the End of the World runs through 24 February.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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