It's a busy theatre week for me and touch wood it's been a decent one so far. Andy took the spare ticket I had for Party at the Arts Theatre, a play about five friends who start a political party in a garden shed. It's written by Tom Basden who also appears in the play, and I'll admit this was one major reason for me booking because he was adorable a couple of months ago as a guest on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He doesn't quite look as good here, but that's largely down to his haircut and a line of dialogue does indicate that's deliberate. I still would though, obvs.
Basden plays one of the quieter members of the party, as Jonny Sweet's bombastic Jared likes to dominate proceedings under the impression he's the party leader. He's clearly the political expert of the group, if expertise doesn't include knowing how any of the words are pronounced, or quite what they mean. In fact the party doesn't have a leader yet, or a name, policies or any obvious reason for existing. This is what they're trying to resolve having invited Duncan (Tim Key) to join, largely because all their votes were coming out in deadlock so they needed a fifth member. No, I'm not a fan of Key's poetry interludes on Newswipe but I don't mind him on We Need Answers and happily he's also good here, as the slightly dim outsider who takes a while to work out that this is a political party, not the kind where there's cake. As a political satire it's pretty gentle but as a comedy it works really well, there's some great lines of dialogue, both the clever kind and the silly kind ("You're Communications Czar." "My communications are what?") plus a genius bit of physical comedy involving a jug of water. Anna Crilly (Magda from Lead Balloon) is good as Jared's nemesis and they all seem to be having fun - Katy Wix maybe a bit too much fun, since she seemed on the verge of corpsing half the time. Like the fictional party the show won't change the world, but unlike them it knows what it wants to do and does it very effectively, namely get lots of laughs.
Party by Tom Basden is booking until the 13th of March at the Arts Theatre.