Gatecrash – Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

Devisers: Zest Theatre
Director: Toby Ealden
Reviewer: Tom Finch

The premise behind Zest Theatre’s new show Gatecrash is an interesting one. The audience is invited to Sam’s 17th birthday party. Wearing headphones they are free to explore Sam’s living room and eavesdrop on the drunken conversations and unfolding stories.

The party has been put together by Sam’s older sister, Jazz, who has a crush on the loudmouth party-goer Jonno, who is also fighting off advances from the bitchy Imogen. Throw in a nerdy 17-year-old and his goth/emo friend and you have a pretty standard teenage house party.

Where Gatecrash excels is the level of authenticity the piece has. From the music choices to the pizza delivery, to the vomit in the middle of the floor, they have created a believable house party setting. It does mean that the stakes never really get particularly high but their target teen audience will very likely identify with it.

It’s a shame that all of the characters are deeply rooted stereotypes with not a lot going on beneath the surface. Zest could have been a little more imaginative with this aspect and layered in some personality traits. As it is there are very few dramatic surprises

The cast are all competent performers though some seem slightly unsure of how to respond to uninvited audience interaction. As the run continues this will most likely be ironed out. The ushersand stage management team should also be given special mention as they are intrinsic in keeping things running smoothly and pointing the audience to the action.

The early start time (7pm) feels to be working against the company. A later start time when the audience may have had a drink or two could make the crowd a little less reticent and quicker to join in with the antics to help create the party atmosphere.

Gatecrash though shows great promise and is well worth a visit.

Runsuntil 18th March | Image: Roy Ealden

Related article Toby Ealden on Gatecrash

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