Writer: Devised by Ensemble
Directors: Aoife Courtney &Deirdre Lennon
Reviewer: Ciara Murphy
Devised by Ready Fire Aim and Fizzy Thinking theatre companies,The Partyis am immersive theatre experience based on George Orwell’s classic novel, ‘1984’.
Framed as the high-budget PR launch to Ireland’s newest political party, the performance is convincing from the very beginning. On arrival guests are ushered into the orange(party colours)themed venue. Upon entering the audience are asked to keep their mobile phones on them and to feel free to use them as much as they like. Goodie bags in hand the curious, but eager, audience enter the launch room. With drinks flowing and conversation rife it feels like any other corporate PR event. Only the adoring, and slightly vacant, expression of the party members hints at something more theatrical and sinister.
The participants are split into groups and given the opportunity to earn merits. Armed with a Victory Gin and Tonic, this reviewer moves though thespace completing tasks and engaging with other participants. Chosen for a special VIP experience, this reviewer moves to an anteroom to sit with Michael who asks the VIP participants to read from a set of cards. This encounter is as close as this reviewer came to the more sinister side of the Orwellian experience and it was an interesting insight to the performance’s secret side.
Big Brother takes on new life as the Internet and as the room is awash with smart-phone users (usually a taboo for most conventional theatre experiences), many participants comment on how unusual it is to be allowed use mobile phones during the performance.The Partycontinued to entertain its audience and reassured them that they were happy to have them at the launch. Once The Party’s main manifesto points are revealed, the audience is given time to discuss them with each other, and members of the party. This is the point when the true energy of the piece sets in as The Party attempts to rally support among its participants.
Very surprisingly the majority of the participants seemed to be keen to outwardly display their support, shouting Part slogans, ideals and manifesto points out loud. The aim of the rally is to meet the candidate, once revealed the performance comes to an end, leaving a lot of interesting questions resonating with the audience.
Knowledge of Orwell’s original novel is not necessary but does enhance the performance. As the audience filters back out onto the streets of Dublin City the common consensus is thatThe Partywas an experience like no other. Watch this space.
Photo courtesy of Tiger Dublin Fringe.The Party was reviewed on September 14th.