Party Game review at Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh – ‘meandering, overlong and extremely dull’

The Party Game company. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge The Party Game company. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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Despite the trappings of jollity, site-specific show Party Game is an invitation to boredom among the bunting. The audience gather inside a small bar strewn with folksy decorations, Bruce Springsteen records and wooden chairs, with musicians milling at one end. The four cast members take turns telling us that we’re welcome guests at a surprise party and we’re waiting for Stephen, in whose honour the bash is being held.

One of the flustered four commands revellers to rearrange the furniture, spruce up the place and join in a jangly practice rendition of Stephen’s favourite song. We’re equipped with a small ‘party guide’ notebook in which to write down memories and thoughts. Notwithstanding the accoutrements (including free booze), the atmosphere is one of flat bewilderment.

Sections of live music and a well-rehearsed Irish jig somewhat enliven proceedings, which are heavily punctuated by instances of sombre nude dance or nostalgic monologues amid moody lighting.

It emerges that Stephen is a selfish berk undeserving of celebration, before the titular game occurs; a round of poker in which guests bet with cards representing their life’s loves. Despite funny contributions from volunteers, this is a dud event: meandering, overlong and extremely dull, with Springsteen sorely lacking.

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Immersive show set at a surprise party is a damp squib