first night


Nikki Orrell enjoys an evening of politics with Pitch Productions.

Party, written by comedian Tom Basden, comprises of a simple plot centred on four ingenuous students and their plans to form a new political party. The production team and cast should be incredibly proud of this hilarious and relevant piece. Not only were the jokes fresh and up to date, but the delivery was well timed and downright hilarious. There was never a dull moment within the performance, and watching the cast make a mockery of overly-liberal students (who were unsure of what they were actually talking about) was incredibly apt for a place such as Durham. I for one often felt a sting of ‘oh crap, I do that’ as I watched the piece, which made the humour even more bitingly hysterical.

All of the actors within this piece deserve commendation. Each of them brought an incredibly high level of consistency to the piece through their characterisation, and they all showed a wonderful understanding of comic timing. In particular, Andrew Shires as Jared demonstrated a beautiful understanding of subtlety with his incredible range of facial expressions, adding a depth of humour to the piece. Another standout for me would be Ambika Mod’s Kim, who brought a biting sarcasm to every line. However, the highlight of the show for me was Duncan, played by Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin. Tyzack-Carlin showed an immense skill for comic timing and the pathos he inspired in the audience was incredible, especially considering the light-hearted nature of the piece.

One criticism, however, would be that the show often crossed the line from naturalistic to overexaggerated. It’s difficult in such a humorous piece to stay within the confines of naturalism, as there is a definite pressure to play up to the comedy. And unfortunately, this piece often became pantomimic in nature, with facial expressions that edged into farce and lines that relied on volume rather than nuance to get their point across. To be fair to the cast and director, this rarely detracted from the hilarity of the piece. It did, however, create an unrealistic atmosphere that occasionally brought the audience into a situation where it felt like watching a play rather than being involved in the drama itself. Furthermore, some of the physical humour was overdone. The blocking of the scene where Jared, Jones and Duncan paced around was fairly awkward and Lipson would have done well to consider the lack of space behind the table when directing that particular element. Finally, I would advise Shires and Hamish Lloyd Barnes, playing Jones, to be slightly more cautious in assuming that volume is the only way to create emphasis.

That being said, I would recommend anyone who fancies a laugh to go and see this production. It’s hysterically funny, at one point touching, and it offers an insightful look into what happens when liberalism without knowledge goes a little too far. 

19 November 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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