Centenary Building, Salford
Written and Directed by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari with Abigail Conway
An apocalyptic party with dodgy cocktails but thankfully no rabbit vol au vents. This is party planning overkill with labryinths of classrooms teaching childish or frivolous arts and crafts or more sinister survival skills. This feels like being trapped in a Butlins holiday camp at the end of days, or a Freshers Week gone horribly wrong.
Sirens and explosions are the soundscape as people stroll or lurch around the corridors and stairwells. There is a sense of confusion and nervous curiosity that is I suspect only partly what the creators intended. Later as we are herded into the dimly lit basement a more authentic sense of urgency is evoked.
The band are playing in the disused storeroom where plastic wrapped corpses are stored and tiny bottles of water cost £2. Our leader takes to the stage to give a speech as we sit obediently on the grubby floor. He talks of many of our worst fears and nightmares. It was utterly depressing and bleak; as a psychotherapist I was seriously concerned for anyone emotionally vulnerable who was present.
Party Skills raises the question what skills might we need to survive? Would we man up and make that trap then kill and skin a rabbit? Would we revert to child and make balloon animals, or turn up the volume and party?
Party Skills for the End of the World is cause for reflecting on what we skills or knowledge we might actually need. Wandering round it was interesting to think what survival skills Life has already given me.
Vegetarian for over 30 years yet I suddenly recall how to catch fish and wring a chickens neck from growing up in the country. Coming from Northern Ireland I know to open the windows wide in a bomb scare, and clean up a village shop if that bomb explodes. I know how to make tea and sandwiches if a platoon of soldiers land a helicopter at the bottom of the garden. As a parent I can always entertain bored children or mend cut knees with the contents of my handbag. As a Psychotherapist I know the things to say to lessen suicidal thoughts.
Party Skills felt unfocused and disjointed as though it had been rapidly altered as a response to the Manchester Arena bombing. Perhaps the best testament we can give to those affected is to embrace our strengths and learn from all our past experiences. A celebration of our resilience in adversity is truly a cause for a party.
Running til 16 July