“I went to a marvellous party”, to quote the wonderful Noel Coward and last Friday evening I certainly did as David Dillon’s very sexy play Party opened for a revival run at the Above the Stag, the final show before the theatre moves to its new home in Albert Embankment. The formidable ensemble all took superb direction from Gene David Kirk and it was immediately evident that both the producers and cast had a hit version on their hands.
The three new lads who joined the cast – James Farley as Andy, Daniel Forrester as Peter and Freddie Hogan as James – were fabulous additions to Sam Godchild now playing Kevin, Jamie Firth playing Brian, Lucas Livesey as Philip and a tour de force from Ben Kavanagh as Ray. As with Harold in Boys in The Band the character of Ray is the pivotal force behind the comedy and the drama. The camaraderie of this cast is simply stunning.
The story is a house party being hosted by Kevin and the playing of a game, “Fact, Fantasy or Fiction?”, a version of “Truth or Dare?” where each player takes a card and then in response to what is on the card has to perform a task or tell a story, and then by a show of hands the other players decide which is the truth or a lie. Dangerous at times where human manipulation can cause a ripple, the seven actors involved here are so perfectly cast you will not see a better group effort anywhere else.
There is full frontal nudity, but this is not gratuitous, it’s integral to how these best of friends respect and enjoy each other’s company and value the intensity of friendship that is beautifully explored in Dillon’s play which was first performed in the early 90s in America at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Leave any inhibitions you may have at the door and enjoy a piece of theatre that will have you laughing out loud. A brilliant, observational comedy of manners and charm.