Following a ten week sold out run in 2016, Above The Stag’s hit production of David Dillon’s classic comedy Party lands back in London for another game of Fact or Fantasy from next month. Here, three members of the cast – James Farley, Jamie Firth and Freddie Hogan – get you in the mood to play.
Hi guys, how would you each describe Party?
James Farley: Party is one of the few plays about the gay experience written for a gay audience. Think Boys in the Band meets Queer as Folk.
Freddie Hogan: It’s a sweet and light hearted play about a group of like minded friends who get together to share an evening of good company, where they all take part in a fun game to spice up the evening.
Jamie Firth: Party was written as relief from the AIDS epidemic in the 80s/90s showing the lighter side of gay society in dark times. Today it’s a cheeky game of truth or dare, a chance to laugh and bare a little more than you might expect.
Please tell us about your character and some of what happens during the play?
Jamie Firth: I play Brian, a larger than life character that is the bringer of fun. I introduce the game to the boys, all with the help of a feather boa.
James Farley: Andy is the new kid on the block, but shy and naive. Every gay man has been Andy at some point in their life, where they don’t have many gay friends and aren’t clued up on gay culture. But he also has a devilish side to him, which may or may not reveal itself during the night…
Freddie Hogan: My character James is a masculine, grounded, leather loving sports fan, who does not have the shared musical and pinker tastes with the rest of the characters, but he shares the same desire of love, loyalty and respect toward their community, which binds them all together. James is also super fit and a bit of a show-off, so watch out!
The play shows a group of gay guys having fun – do you think it’s important to show LGBT+ characters leading ‘normal’ lives as well as love stories and political ‘serious’ dramas?
James Farley: Absolutely. As a young kid I was starving to find myself in the films, books and plays I consumed, but they all ended in tragedy, which wasn’t exactly inspiring to a little me. We’re very lucky these days with films like Moonlight and God’s Own Country, which shed a more positive light on our lives. But what’s more remarkable about Party is the time it was written. In 1992 we were only just beginning to crawl out of the effects of the AIDS crisis and Angels in America premiered just the year before, but still David Dillon wrote something filled with joy and hope, celebrating gay solidarity among friends.
Freddie Hogan: I think it’s imperative for the LGBT community and characters in drama to be humanised as much as possible, without having to attach the heavy stigmas and labels to every LGBT story. This community can live as normal a life as any other and to show this would be a correct depiction. This is not just a ‘group of gay guys having fun’ but a group of human beings having fun too. I think it’s important we normalise this topic as much as possible and this play does exactly that.
Jamie Firth: What’s normal?! Sometimes we all need a laugh and that’s what we’re here for, although there are moments that might make you think too.
In Party, the guys play a game called Fact or Fantasy – have you ever played a game like this that got out of hand, or had a funny or embarrassing outcome?
Jamie Firth: Not that I can think of, although I do remember a night where a bunch of us stormed charity shops armed with 20 quid and a pair of heels and hit the town in very bad drag. A sight to see.
Freddie Hogan: I have played a variation of this game many times during my youth, not so much in my 20s shame to say, but hey this play will end that dry spell. One time when I was playing with some friends, a mate and I were dared to streak down the main road, so we happily obliged and ran down the main road butt naked! It was a buzz, so let’s see if the play has some of the same elements.
James Farley: One of those games actually led to my first kiss. I was 16, staying in a hostel, and he was a beautiful, long-locked motorbike-riding boy. But then he ended up having sex
with a girl in the bunk directly above me. Haven’t felt heartbreak quite like it since!
We find out some of the guys’ fantasies in the play, but what fantasy would each of you reveal if you were playing for real?
James Farley: To have the remainder of the food spread entirely to myself.
Freddie Hogan: A fantasy of mine would be being tied to a bed on a beach and watching Halle Berry come out of the sea seductively, as she does in Bond, walk
over to the bed where I was tied and have her way with me. Whips, chains and cream. Sun cream I hope, not whipped cream – I burn easily!
Jamie Firth: That would depend on the fellow players I suppose… Who’s up for a game?