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Review: Party After the End of the World

Posted by: Miriam Schechter
Review: Party After the End of the World supporting image

Miriam Schechter checked out the latest Forest Sounds Theatre show at Theatre Deli

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what Church of Jim is, but as far as I can tell, it seems to be a world inside the writer’s head that spills out of his ears onto ticket holders and curious folk who are attracted to the colourful posters and intriguing promo videos.

 

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what Church of Jim is, but as far as I can tell, it seems to be a world inside the writer’s head that spills out of his ears onto ticket holders and curious folk who are attracted to the colourful posters and intriguing promo videos.

 

Party After the End of the World, the latest Forest Sounds Theatre show was part of the Church of Jim world, although I barely heard Jim being mentioned. Andy Cook, the writer and main performer of the show stuck to his character of a confused but energetic host, whilst additions to the performance team included Amy Blake, the human glitter ball, and Lucy Haighton, dance administrator.

 

The most extraordinary thing about Party After was not the show itself, but the way it made the audience feel free and relaxed, which is rare and very precious in live performance. Theatre has a tendency to make people feel trapped in seats, like they can’t make a sound or go to the toilet, but there was freedom for the duration of the show to leave the set and go to the bar, to explore the various spaces in the party, to talk to your friends, and to feel part of something rather than distant from an elitist piece of theatre. They didn’t advertise the performances as ‘relaxed’, however they definitely could have, and I commend this atmosphere and wish to see more of it in the future.

 

Another fabulous part of the show was the sound art and music, designed and put together by Luke Thomas. He created a life-sized man and woman called ‘mum’ and ‘dad’, who sat on two chairs for the most part, but the audience were encouraged to dance with them. Mum and dad’s back and hands were covered in tin foil, meaning that when you touched them together, a connection was made and music played!

 

The same principle was utilised through tin foil hats that were hanging from the ceiling. You and another person could put them on your head, when you touched the other person, the circuit was complete and noises similar to that of a Bop It toy played. It was the sort of thing toddlers and children would be able to do for hours on end, never getting bored of it, I suggested to Luke after the show that an art exhibition of solely this design aimed at children would make a lot of people happy.

 

More interesting designs came in the shape of Jack Poole’s bicycles that powered smoothie makers, and the giant Wizard of Oz-like head aptly named ‘King’ which was hidden away. I found it hard to join in with the ending as I was so astounded by how clever it was. I wished there was more of the ending, where all the audience were given a script, and we as ‘Partygoers’, spoke to King as one. It is this sort of writing, that experiments with the roles of the audience and inanimate objects that only comes from a very talented and imaginative writer such as Andy.

 

A low point of the show was the quiz, which dragged on for too long, and because both the questions and answers were complete nonsense, the audience didn’t have anything to grab onto to keep them interested. There were also some strange prizes that were hard to take home with us.

 

Amy Blake and Lucy Haighton both added a lovely friendly atmosphere to the experience. Amy, as a silent human glitter ball, gave one-to-one performances in a closed off area, which were very special and magical. Lucy led dances towards the end of the show which most people really took to and fully immersed themselves in. There was also a bathtub of polystyrene balls of which I’m still finding in between my floorboards and in my shoes.

 

Overall, I’d highly recommend Forest Sound Theatre as a company that makes relaxed, experimental, clever, and balanced performances that give the audience energy, and can be enjoyed by children, adults and everyone else.

25/7/17 - 25/7/19 12 month blenheim

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