By Sandy Gibson
60 min | Comedy, Drama | PG
The first question that will pop into one’s head when considering whether to see Searching for Party is: “Do I need to be a gamer to enjoy it?” I’m happy to report that as far as I’m concerned, the answer is no. Gamers may be able to better appreciate the more subtle references and the classic video game music played between scenes, but this show brings so much more to the table than a bunch of Pac-Man jokes. In a series of slightly connected scenes, it takes a critical but comedic look at poignant issues inherent in both the gaming world and in real life as well, comparing and contrasting the two realms in thought-provoking ways.
Most of the scenes are set in front of imaginary Xbox consoles, but they set off to explore issues ranging from sexual orientation to settling down to the superiority of real-world parties to online ones. There’s plenty of variety in the tone of these scenes, and comedy shines through in every one. The snappy, well-written dialogue is delivered by talented performers who play grounded characters with good comedic timing. One clever piece in which a couple is coached through a conflict by an oblivious roommate yelling at his online quest party stands out as a particularly funny example of this, but there are plenty of other instances that showcase the quality of the script and the cast.
From a technical perspective, the show keeps it simple while still changing the stage picture from scene to scene. Small costume changes are used to differentiate characters, since cast members take on multiple roles throughout the show. Minimal lighting cues and set pieces help keep the show tight and moving quickly.
While this show will resonate especially well with gamers, I’d recommend it to their non-gaming friends as well. Not only will it help them understand their screen-addicted pals, but it could also inject a tone of familiarity and common human experience into their notions of gaming as a whole. Whether you’re a seasoned RPG player seeking gaming nostalgia or if your only experience of gaming consists of constant Candy Crush invites, Searching for Party could be just the show you’re looking for during the last weekend of the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival.
Searching for Party plays at Venue 1 – Arts Court Theatre on Saturday, June 25 at 9:00 pm and Sunday, June 26 at 5:00 pm.
Tickets are $12.