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Review: OFFICE PARTY at Product Solutions HQ

OFFICE PARTY
Product Solutions HQ

We’ve all been to them – those riotous office parties that rapidly degenerate into debauchery, and other shenanigans. This one is no exception.

Upon entering the office, you become an employee of ‘Product Solutions’ and are assigned to a department. I was fortunate enough to be an Executive, and so was permitted into theExecutive Lounge and allowed (actively encouraged) to keep the other staff in check. Other Departments include Creatives, Corporate Social Responsibility, Marketing, Domestic Services, HR and Accounts, each headed by excellent actors who immerse themselves wonderfully into their roles.

One thing that struck me almost immediately upon being assigned to the Executive team was the natural sense of superiority I felt over the other teams. I found myself searching out other Executives to mingle with and appraising the performance of other party goers.

We are taken off for a team briefing, before being led into the main party room (actually the Pleasance), where we are welcomed by the pompous CEO of Product Solutions (played to bombastic perfection by Richard Rycroft). His speech includes announcing a whole wave of redundancies and admitting he is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had any alcohol for two months, as well as some typically dreadful jokes, which we (as his employees) are compelled to laugh at.

After introducing the other Heads of Departments, the party is in full swing, with the Head of Creatives (Jonathan Broke) manning the wheels of steel playing a medley of cheesy party songs. The evening continues in typical
office party style with more managerial speeches, party games and professional performances from legendary cabaret artists Ursula Martinez (La Clique, La Soiree) and Christopher Green (Tina C, Ida Barr) who manage to both delight and shock the audience, including a fantastic routine by Martinez who plays both sides of a male / female vocal duo who get a little carried away with each other on stage.

Further entertainment comes from the excellently portrayed Heads of Department (Head of CSR: Ros Adler, Head of Domestic Services: Sue Vincent, Head of Marketing: Petra Massey, Head of Accounts -Anil Desai, Head of HR: Holly Burn), whose mini dramas continue throughout the evening. You never feel entirely sure if the person you are talking to is a fellow audience member, or a performer and this extends to the peripheral areas, not just the main room.

A variety of surprises over the evening, but particularly in the final few minutes, include free running, full frontal nudity, opera singing and dancing firemen, along with vomiting, arguments, and an outrageous display of drunkenness by the CEO as he quite spectacularly falls off the wagon.

A remarkable piece of experiential theatre, Office Party fully replicates the awkwardness of office parties and is best enjoyed after a few drinks with a group of friends. Don’t go to this expecting your usual high brow theatre; instead, turn up prepared for a wildly outrageous night of brilliantly inventive interactive cabaret and you will not be disappointed. It’s definitely the best office party I have ever been to.

Conceived and directed by Ursula Martinez and Christopher Green, and written by Martinez, Green and Cal McCrystal, Office Party plays at Product Solutions HQ (next to the Pleasance Theatre), North Road, Islington, N7 9EF until 17 December. Tickets £30 from www.pleasance.co.uk/islington

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