Review – Office Party – Mick Perrin for Just For Laughs Live at the Pleasance Theater


DISCLAIMER: This review is for a show for which I received free tickets. And which I left before it was over.

“Hey! How’d you like to come to a free show at the Pleasance? It’s called “Office Party” and it’s an interactive experience …” On my calendar was nothing more than an aspirational space for Driving Miss Daisy, which, truth be told, is not really something the Life in the Cheap Seats budget has been able to squeeze in. So I said yes, and invited a friend to be my plus one.

The day of the show arrives and I have got a tremendous cold. I’ve gotten past the body temperature fluctuations and am now at the endless sniffling and lack of energy stage. Of course, I made it to work earlier, and in keeping with the best office tradition, I am propped up with Day Nurse. I’d said I’d go, I promised to write a review, so by gum I was going to show up – just like I had at work. After all, with many office parties, it’s not really about enjoying yourself, it’s about showing you’re willing to make an effort – right?

It was clear at the beginning that many of the performers were scattered amongst us – greeting us as we dropped off our coats, visiting when we got our name tags ( and were assigned to various departments – I got put in Marketing). The it was time to sit and have a (free) drink while we waited for other people to show up. We talked about … nothing. Plays. Work. Crap. We were getting bored.

Finally, the event started as we were split up into small groups and led off to meet the other members of our work groups. My group was shown a movie and given the task of coming up with a jingle to sell the company. I wasn’t engaged. We were given some small glasses of punch, then hustled back through the bar area to the main party room (the large stage at the Pleasance), where the rest of the the divisions slowly congregated. In this room there was a cash bar, a large danceflor, a DJ booth, a curtained stage, a raised stage across from it, and a balcony area overlooking it all.

There was some dancing. There were some group games. There was a performance in which someone (Ursula Martinez?) lip synched a song dressed half as a man and half as a woman. There were more contests. We were encouraged to dance. The head of the company spoke to us (and behaved inappropriately). We saw office politics in action. The actors intermingled and stayed in role. There was more cabaret. My husband ate a donut on stage.

Looking at my watch, I saw that after 2 hours I had got to the point where I regularly get with office parties: I was bored. I didn’t want to play games, I certainly didn’t want to dance, I didn’t feel like standing up and drinking, and I was sincerely disappointed by the deliberately bad cabaret performances. I’m sorry, but I’m a sophisticated theater goer, and this wasn’t hitting my bar. Now read this description (from the Time Out promo for Office Party):

“Get ready to be recruited as an employee of a fictitious company and where you will be witness to all the hilarious activities at this riotous annual party. Immerse yourself in the surreal world of Product Solutions Head Office and let your Head of Department take you on a wild night out involving outrageous comedy and cabaret.”

Hilarious? Surreal? Riotous? I WISH. I got an update from two people who stayed (it only went for another half an hour) but I don’t see how even in that time they could have possibly crossed the barrier to making me care. I wish like hell the stage performances had been outrageous – instead they were flat as a joke about boob jobs gone wrong. Just naked doesn’t cut it. Even naked audience members isn’t enough. In fact, the whole thing was just too much like a real office party for me – an event I typically avoid. Since the evening was organized by the co-producer of La Soirée, a production I really enjoyed, my hopes were much too high. Still, there was just nothing for me to enjoy. Two other girls who had been there were on the same platform as me on the Tube and we shared our joy at escaping. Thank goodness it was free – my one consolation in an evening poorly spent.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, October 11th 2011. My cold continued to torture me for another week after I left. Office Party is booking until January 21st. Alternately, I see La Soiree is actually back starting from November 23rd – perhaps you should see it instead?

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3 Responses to “Review – Office Party – Mick Perrin for Just For Laughs Live at the Pleasance Theater”

  1. Simon MacMullen Says:

    I actually quite enjoyed myself. But I was not ill, drunker, and generally up for some stupid behaviour.

    It felt pretty lowbrow. But fun, if you’re in the right mood.

    Like you say, just like a real office party…

  2. jessicad5 Says:

    So glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t enjoy this at all, was beginning to feel terribly boring since a lot of reviews I saw beforehand were generally positive.

  3. A year in blogging – Webcowgirl’s most popular posts of 2011 – and tips for improving your blog stats « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] Review – Office Party – Mick Perrin for Just For Laughs Live at the Pleasance Theater560 […]

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