With exam term in full swing and the pressure starting to kick in, a party is no doubt at the back of most of our minds. The latest show at the Corpus Playrooms, however, makes a strong case that it shouldn’t be. Party Trick is a quick fire, accessible sketch show that is sure to provide an entertaining hour away from revision.
The premise, as with many uni sketch shows, is simple but effective – a self-confessedly unconnected series of sketches loosely tied to a theme: parties. With a minimalist set, the focus here is really on the large cast and their even larger roster of characters, ranging from a Brexiteer Judas to an impossible-to-please time-travelling grandmother. The performances are generally strong and certainly enthusiastic, if a little rushed. As the cast relaxed, their delivery grew stronger, more confident, and consequently funnier – something that will no doubt improve over the following nights. Maintaining coherence with so many varied characters is a challenge, but one surmounted by the strikingly physical and clearly defined direction and blocking. Musical and lighting cues smooth the rapid transitions between the scenes, giving the show an infectious energy, amplified by the intimate setting of the Playrooms.
It is with their ideas that the writers of the show truly demonstrate their talents. Indeed, it is a credit to the cast that they almost universally managed to keep a straight face when delivering some bizarre concepts. Highlights included a Soviet gameshow, a politically charged Last Supper and a couple defined by Christmas songs, but every sketch showed promise. The execution of these ideas is a little more hit-and-miss, with a few pieces failing to find a firm landing to what is an exciting premise. As the show develops, these small niggles may well be refined to allow it to reach its considerable potential. In any case, weaker sections are inevitably followed in seconds by a fresh idea. Particularly impressive is the manipulation of the audience’s understanding of certain characters; at their best, the punchlines deliver a revelation that not only ties the sketch together but also retroactively makes the antics of the characters even funnier.
This is a show that is well worth seeing; it’s ingenuity will stay with you long after the all-too-brief running time of 45 minutes is over. Watch out for the joyful, ridiculous musical finale that is sure to leave everyone grinning on their way out.