Egos clash in PARTY politicsAndreas Marcou with permission for Varsity

‘Are we pro Muslims?’ earnestly asks Phoebe (Lorna Beal), the secretary of a newly formed, and yet unnamed student run political party. Their ‘foreign policy’ debates are varied, ranging from Climate change to Armenian sex trafficking, but what unifies them all was utter ignorance. PARTY emphatically caricatures the vanity and ineffectiveness of student politics, where lofty ambitions like deconstructing the capitalist hegemony and assuring peace in the Middle East are slowed by questioning what pillaging means, deciding it is somewhere between theft and rape, occurring usually in villages. It also manages to make wonderful fun out of bureaucracy: they have their cake, but must forward a motion on whether to eat it too.

“Emphatically caricatures the vanity and ineffectiveness of student politics”

The satire was very well executed, and as a proud JCR committee member myself, particularly captured our baseless self-importance. Jared, self-fashioned party leader, was played with great presence by Sam Mandhi-Gomi, directing his incompetent party members through heavy political subjects with equally incompetent leadership. His clashes with Mel (Martha Alexander), who also insisted on her right to rule, made clear the ultimate aim of student politicians: power and superiority over the uninvolved, apolitical masses. They stood valiantly against the interests of global capitalism and corporatism, which meant trying to buy their coffee from independent stores, and for the interests of ‘the poor’, but of course only as long as the poor were interested solely in voting for them.

Even after sitting through my fair share of shoddy JCR or SU meetings, the political ineptitude on stage was unrealistically extreme. But this did not work to the detriment of the production, as the intentional over-the-top childishness of the political engagement cast amusing doubt on the maturity of our supposedly ‘grown up’ parliament. Are our elected officials just better at disguising their infantile lust for power? And nobody embodied this excess more than Charlie Beevers as Jones, who played his role with pantomimic facial expression and delivery. Lorna Beal was also a highlight in a similarly excessive performance, and made the idiosyncrasies of Phoebe both likeable and laughable.

“Are our elected officials just better at disguising their infantile lust for power?”

There was obviously much more time devoted to slogans and colour schemes than any actual policy positions, but that is because the party members preferred the feeling of being political than politics itself. Immense pride was taken in roles such as ‘home secretary’, which was given to Jared by default because the meetings took place in the shed behind his home. Great emphasis was also placed on mispronunciation and misspelling, and things which might ‘sound racist’ or ‘sound good’, as they commented on the performativity in politics. It also satirised the glib, virtue signalling public statement, where clearly morally dubious characters stood for vaguely nice sounding ideas like ‘humanism’, ‘liberalism’ or ‘progress’

A particular highlight of the show was the hustings, or ‘hostings’ as Jared and Jones insisted, which was a satisfying cross section of arrogance and ignorance. The members exploited constitutional technicalities to hamper each others’ campaigns, and ultimately were undone by their tactical voting when they all went for uninterested fifth-man Duncan, brought in only for the ability to stop a 2-2 vote split and his new dad’s job at a printing agency. His down-to-earth simplicity cut across the party’s pretension effectively, and Eva Shepherd made him incredibly endearing in his authenticity and poorly concealed cake fixation.

The stage gave pride of place to a large paper flip chart, whose comic potential was used to great effect. As they tried to find a blank space for a discussion on weather in relation to climate change, a surprisingly small list entitled ‘celebrities we know’ was also scrawled in infantile handwriting. The only guiding ideals that the party listed were ‘Democracy’ and ‘Space Program?’, but unfortunately both were undercut as they argued about redoing the election process to kick out Duncan, and the Thomas the Tank engine piggy bank was slightly too small for aeronautic funding. The set was simple and effective, and drew attention to the simplicity of their operation while they discussed their ridiculously high confidence in general election glory.

“For anyone involved in a college JCR, it is unmissable”

The start of the play did feel a little weaker than the rest, as lines were delivered in a slightly rushed manner so that punchlines weren’t hammered home as strongly as they could have been. Short Coat’s lines were also given largely with his back to the audience, and while he was played well by Jacob Coughlan, it felt a disjointed role. His banter with Phoebe was fun, and it allowed Jared to betray his overbearing, masculine defensiveness, but his quick entrance and exit felt a wasted potential for a very funny character. The commentary was perhaps also overly unsubtle, and at some points I felt a stirring of defensiveness for my fellow politically engaged students, as PARTY portrayed any interest in social improvement as invariably infantile and misinformed.


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Overall though, PARTY is a prime example of great satire, packing an impressive amount of laughs and astute social commentary into its short hour-long runtime. For anyone involved in a college JCR, it is unmissable. You’ll certainly see your fellow committee members in it, or if you’re like me, you will regrettably see yourself.

PARTY is showing at Corpus Playrooms from 14-18th November at 21:30