Review: Party This Weekend
Photo: Shy hipster Derek (right) shares a drink with barista Jamie (left) at Party This Weekend (Samantha Jung Photo)
This weekend I attended the opening night of Party This Weekend (PTW), a production put on by House Party Collective. The play is an unusual production; it breaks the fourth wall, meaning there is frequent interaction between the audience and the actors. In PTW, theatregoers are guests at Jen’s surprise birthday soiree, which is a house party put on by Lara, the “de facto hostess.”
Lara is one of four characters audience members can sign up to follow around for the night. The other protagonists are: Cameron, who is referred to as a “douchebag”; Vivian, a spunky girl and “wild child”; and finally, Derek, the “shy hipster.”
The first few minutes at PTW were like any other play. I paid for my ticket and chose a character to follow around. Vivian and Cameron were the most popular choices, but I decided to pick Derek, since I was intrigued by the synopsis’ claim that he harboured a “secret.” The normalities ended there; surprisingly, I was asked to sign a waiver before splitting from my friends to meet Derek in the living room.
Just as audiences feel like they’re at an actual wedding at Tony and Tina’s Wedding, another performance that breaks the fourth wall, I felt like I was actually at a house party – there were the Three D’s – dancing, drinking games and drama. The protagonists are supported by about a dozen secondary characters, and it was sometimes difficult to tell the difference between them and the audience members. At one point, Mary, Derek’s girlfriend, asked me if I attended her church, and I was able to engage in a little improvisation of my own. In addition, Derek’s storyline is more of a drama, and actor Matthew Beairsto does a great job at capturing his character’s struggles.
PTW is a creative invention from start to finish. I chatted with UBC alum and director Laura McLean before the show and learned that the idea sprung from discussions at – no surprise – a house party. Each storyline was written by a different writer, and the play took about 10 months of work before opening night. The play’s website is a mock Facebook event, complete with wall posts by the actors. Links are included to character bios and a few blog posts written by the protagonists. Tickets are $15 each, or you can get all four perspectives for $40. I would recommend going at least twice; from the brief interactions Derek had with the other protagonists, as well as snippets of conversation by the other characters, I could tell I would not be disappointed if I returned to the Party.
Party This Weekend runs until August 27. If you want to follow tweets from PTW, click/use hashtags #partythisweekend or #ptw.