I didn’t know what Office Party was before I saw it (or perhaps ‘took part in it’ is more accurate) and I’m not sure I know what it is now. Other than to say it is a unique experience and one well worth having, I’m not sure if it’s theatre or comedy or cabaret or some anarchic debauched combination of them all.
We travelled up from Brighton to The Pleasance Theatre in London’s glamorous Islington on Friday night. It was only when we were on the tube that my girlfriend explained that we would not be, as I had assumed, sitting in a darkened theatre watching actors muck about on stage, but we were to be attending an actual party with the actors seeded among us ready to cause frivolity. So it involved: standing up, interaction and an actor wanging his wanger around. I was slightly alarmed.
I needn’t have been though. When we got there, it was quite clear who the main actors were. They gave us name badges dividing us into office departments: accounts, executives and so on. We then got drinks and mingled in a large room with a couple of hundred others in the ‘audience’, trying to work out who were real people and who were actors. It wasn’t easy. One couple who we were sure were acting because they approached us to chat just turned out to be something called ‘friendly’.
As the evening progressed we were led away to meet as ‘departments’ and our head of department gave a speech about the past year at the company that set up some of the events about to unfold…
And what unfolded was a party. A disco that was stupid fun in the way office parties can be. But also with the extra component of speeches turning into fights, and sudden outbreaks of nudity, opera and firemen.
It was a laugh. And though there were games and people got onstage and acted uproariously, you didn’t have to get more involved than you were comfortable with. I just stood about and had a drink whilst the anarchy played out around me.
It was very clever and I had a great time but I still wasn’t sure how to describe it. ‘Anarchic’ was the word that came repeatedly to mind. It was fun and different and dangerous. But not too dangerous. The wanger was wanged at a safe distance.