90s Reunion Gameshow Party – 4 stars

One of Crow Theatre Company’s aims is to “create fun, informal and non-traditional theatre”, and with ’90s Reunion Gameshow Party’ they have succeeded gloriously.

This is much more an interactive event than a simple theatrical performance, and you are drawn in to the proceedings from the moment of your arrival. A group of old school friends are here for their 10 year anniversary reunion, and as DJ Steve blasts out 90s tunes and you buy your beer and find a table, there is much amusement and satisfaction to be had in spotting the actors of the piece and observing their character’s subtle nuances and apparent foibles. You may even find yourself, as I did, ‘being recognised’ by one of them, only to become engaged in reminiscing over your supposed schooldays together and making up a bizarre alter-ego for yourself as you answer that old chestnut, “So what are you up to these days?” It’s all great fun, and helps to make you feel a real part of the whole thing.

Before long we are listening in to their conversations – which start off as private but become less so as the party goes on, tensions mount and arguments erupt. The characters have dark secrets hidden beneath the surface, and throughout the evening it is the job of some specially selected members of the audience, through a series of tasks and party games, to spot the clues and find out what these dark secrets are. There’s a prize for the winner, and also for the best 90s costume!

The performances here are excellent. Characters are well drawn, believable and very well sustained by a cast of talented actors and improvisers. Great use was made of the space too; in a piece which is designed to be flexible enough to take place anywhere, the team managed to utilise every corner of the Southwark Playhouse bar to great effect.

My only disappointment was that it was occasionally difficult to hear some of the scenes being played out. This was because of two things – a lack of projection by some performers and the volume of the background music being left maybe just one notch too high.

All in all though, Crow Theatre Company provides an innovative, engaging and highly entertaining experience with ’90s Reunion Gameshow Party’. If you come across it at festivals or events, I highly recommend putting on your platforms and bomber jackets and joining in the party!

(originally posted 25 April 2010)

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