For me, theatre is all about bringing something unique and different to an audience, whether it be a good hard-hitting play, a good bit of storytelling or a wacky piece of performance art that gets us to think about the world we live in today. Birthday Suit Party, a pairing of the latter two from that list, is York Theatre Royal’s latest offering to the audience as part of their TakeOver Festival.
Birthday Suit Party is a double bill of two of Fragility’s shows, which are My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up and GameShow. There’s quite a difference between the two titles there, and it reflects the fact that both of these shows are pretty different.
My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up is a one man play delivered by Andy Silverwood, in which he talks to the audience about pretty much what the title of the play says. He discusses past loves, as well as the madcap endeavours that he undertook in his pursuit of such loves, and throws in stuff such as a ukulele song and teddy bear down his boxers, which he randomly removes at the start of the show. He then puts them back on and clambers awkwardly into the audience, evoking a fair bit of embarrassing laughter. Silverwood’s storytelling is engaging to watch, and he creates a character you can sympathise with and, most importantly, laugh at and relate to. He’s enjoyable to watch, though I can’t help but feel like the play went on a little bit too long. Aside from that though, My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up is a funny, alternative piece of theatre.
GameShow, on the other hand, I don’t feel is quite as polished as Silverwood’s prior effort. He brings out his friend Kristian Pirotta onto the stage. Together, they present to the audience a series of random challenges in order to compete for points, such as devouring chocolate logs against the clock and head-butting mousetraps. This culminates in a climactic finale where both performers bring the stunned audience onto the stage for a final ‘birthday suit party’ where we were given cans of silly string and foam pies to pummel each other with. The end image is hilarious, with York Theatre Royal’s studio space being turned into what looks like the aftermath of a child’s birthday party. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that this level of energy and excitement was sustained throughout the piece, and instead I found myself faced with a series of sketches that ultimately highlight the silly situations we sometimes find ourselves in. Perhaps that’s what the piece really aimed to do, and in that respect, it succeeds – but as a piece of truly engaging theatre, there’s a few more things it needs to accomplish before it’s up there with the mind-blowing.
Fragility does, however, offer up an evening of alternative entertainment that’s sure to appeal to a variety of audience members. If you’re looking for such an event, then Birthday Suit Party could be right up your street.
Birthday Suit Party was part of York Theatre Royal’s TakeOver Festival. For more information and tickets for the festival’s other shows, visit the TakeOver Festival website.