Words by Stephanie Babiak
Choosing a title for your latest Fringe show is tricky business. In the quest to catch the audience’s attention, it’s not unheard of for a production to pick something that promises more than it can deliver. With that in mind, ‘The Party’ was a bold choice, but the team of Strut & Fret knew exactly what they were doing and delivered every good thing the name implied, and then some.
A combination of burlesque, circus, dance, and comedy, the show loosely follows a group of raunchy and hilarious characters as they, well, party. It’s the kind of show that’s hard to explain on paper for the simple reason that words don’t really do it justice, and you kind of feel like you’d be spoiling it for people if you gave too much away. It strings together a range of acts that are each unique, entertaining and impressive in their own right, but when brought together feel like fun personified. Whether it’s the hilarious physical comedy and back-and-forth of two party-goers seemingly destined to spend a steamy night together, or the magical high-flying trapeze artist swinging gracefully above your head, there’s always something going on. One of the things that makes this show such a standout is not only how jam-packed it is, but also how flawlessly it manages to execute this potential chaos. No detail has been overlooked – the visuals, including a colour scheme and costume style that could perhaps best be described as the equivalent of a bag of skittles to the face, work seamlessly with a kick-ass soundtrack that will have you dancing in your seat. This is a show which is polished and perfected but flows so naturally that you’re too engaged with what’s going on to even realise you’re watching something staged.
The performers are beyond exceptional. Not only are they ridiculously talented in their various physical feats (whether that’s in dance, acrobatics, singing, or anything in between), but their seamless interaction with the audience adds a level of laughter and engagement that only the very best can pull off. This is a show where spending the extra money for a VIP ring-side seat is worth the splurge as the crew are outstanding at making you feel like a fellow guest at the party, even if you’re usually the type to studiously avoid eye contact when the call for volunteers goes up. The fun is so infectious that the most introverted among us will still find themselves keen to get up and dance – you just can’t help it. This sense of fun is what sets ‘The Party’ apart as unique. Seeing it play out is an absolute blast – you’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. It’s the kind of show that’s an absolute joy to watch.
It’s not often that a production manages to juggle so many moving parts (both literally and figuratively) to deliver the kind of outstanding one-of-a-kind show that ‘The Party’ proved to be. Strut & Fret had already set a high bar for themselves with previous successful shows at earlier Fringe Festivals, but somehow they still managed to exceed expectations with ‘The Party’. If this is the kind of performance we can expect from them, then I’d highly suggest making their next offering the absolute top of your list for future Fringe fun.
***** – five stars
Tickets were provided free of charge for media review purposes