Party by Tom Basden at The Pleasance, Islington

It’s not easy to start a political ‘party’ as four friends discover in a garden shed. The fifth friend thought he was going to an actual birthday ‘party’. His birthday party. There was much humour to be found in Bridge Arts’ revival of this comedic piece from Tom Basden, that first appeared on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009.

Set in the garden shed of the self-proclaimed leader of the party, a party which has no name as the members cannot decide on one, five students try to discuss foreign policy, climate change, and their party’s motto, with the aim of forming a political party. Sadly there is little agreement between the friends who endlessly argue whilst trying to be democratic, casting votes on suggested mottos and who should lead their party – all with unexpected outcomes.

Bridge Arts, founded by Maya Saroya and George Vafakis, produce established work and have brought together for this production Tom Scurr, Elizabeth Hope, Florence Hapgood, Luke de Belder and Steve Hodgetts to bring this hilarious piece back to the stage. Tom Scurr excelled as the straight-laced and slightly uptight bow-tied minister of foreign policy, whilst Florence played the kind and often trampled on party secretary very well. There was feistiness from Elizabeth’s impassioned health secretary – health secretary because she suffers from IBS and then Luke de Belder showcasing perfect comic timing with his awkward man-in-the-middle, intent on pouring glasses of water, each with the same volume. George was sharp with his quick witted responses as honorary leader, due to the fact that it was his mother’s garden shed, whilst Steve Hodgetts stole the scene with his political science degree and attire…

The play was carefully directed by Zach James allowing the play its full comedic potential. There were hilarious moments during the leadership ceremony involving the Thomas the Tank Engine money box and the singing of ‘The Circle of Life’ and the antics of Duncan, the leader they democratically elect. This was a very enjoyable night of theatre and one we recommend to you all, and in one of the bastions of theatre and comedy treasure, the lovely Pleasance, Islington.

Highlight of the show – Shortcoat – showing that sometimes the best jokes are the visual ones!

WIGS 4/5

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