Everyone loves a party. Gary and Nicky are throwing one for Mark at their flat – except Gary’s boss, Victoria, has tagged along, steaming drunk, and Gary’s interviewing for a promotion next week. What could go wrong?
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play unpicks the threads of contemporary British society to reveal the hypocrisy beneath the surface. Everything comes undone – stereotypes are set up then dismantled, and the structure unwinds itself, starting as sitcom before things get nasty.
In theory, it’s a solid device, lulling the audience into a false sense of security at this portrait of multicultural Britain before stripping back the veneer. In practice, it’s less convincing, with the plot mechanics being wrenched into place for explosive conversations to occur, rather than unfolding organically.
It’s polemical, in a way which can be both thrilling and frustrating in equal measure. Bhatti’s ear for micro-aggressions is painfully sharp, but generally it devolves into characters explaining things to each other. And for a piece that does so much to unpack stereotypes, the supporting characters (Manjinder Virk’s Anjum and Petra Letang’s Karen particularly) feel undercooked, seemingly there to provide an alternative stance on an issue.
It’s a shame as the play really crackles in places. The standout scene is when Gary (Richie Campbell, who carries himself with a mix of weariness, pride and fury) tears shreds out of his perniciously racist boss. It’s directed with fiery exactness by Michael Buffong, while Anna Fleischle’s slate-grey design, initially beautiful, becomes increasingly oppressive.