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GATECRASH – Lyric Hammersmith, London.

GatecrashZest Theatre’s Gatecrash is a great theatrical concept and fun to participate in. As an interactive performance, the audience are invited to Sam’s surprise 17th birthday in his family home by his sister Jazz. What follows is a series of party games, sibling spats, comic book references, teenage heartbreak, sexual bravado, loud music and one angry neighbour. Voila; Zest Theatre has produced the recipe for a stereotypical house party.

Upon arrival each audience member is given a headset, which enables you to jump between different channels to listen in to the different conversations taking place around the room. This is really interesting as although the loudest conversations pull focus and take over the main channel – intriguing conversations are happening all around the living room party setting; listening to these quieter conversations often reveals facts about the social connections and relationships between the characters.

Observing the antics of the other party guests/audience is just as amusing as observing the protagonists – types quickly develop: from those who are observing the party as a whole, to the party-goers playing the games, to those found tidying up all the dirty glasses on the table of drinks and the food debris! On the whole the atmosphere of a house party is created and the audience help to do this, although when people are moved by the stage managers so as not to be in the way for specific movements of the cast, this somewhat quashes the concept and sharply brings into focus Gatecrash is a scripted, choreographed piece.

The sibling rivalry between older sister Jazz (Melissa Grace) and younger brother Sam (Alex Harvey Sporle) comes into it’s own with the appearance of Sentry the Hamster and quickly escalates into a poignant moment that changes the whole emphasis of the party. This vignette is a highlight of the piece and transitions well into the quirky end.

Throughout Gatecrash, snippets of the character’s lives and personalities are revealed – which makes being able to change channel on the headsets even more interesting, as not everyone will have heard the same fragments of conversation. The apparently sexually confident Jonno (Luke Vernon) appears to have the attention of both Jazz and Imogen (Elena Valentine), cue female rivalry and add Rachel (Amy Forde) and Sam into the mix and there are the key ingredients for all the necessary house-party drama to unfold. With complex relationships involving superhero quotes, love, lust and parental controls, these five characters take the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions, that leave us to ponder what will happen in the morning – or when their parents come back from holiday?

Gatecrash is a great example of interactive theatre made by and for young people, although also open and accessible to a wider audience due to the emotional content being easily recognisable. So if you want to join the party get on social media and #GATECRASHPLAY
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Reviewed 16/03/2016

By Emily Jones

15th – 18th March 2016
Lyric Hammersmith, London, W6 0QL


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