Theatre on Fire’s ‘Party Time’ invites you into a stranger’s home — literally

By the time the actual play begins, a sense of comfort and community has been established.
By the time the actual play begins, a sense of comfort and community has been established.

Home invasion isn’t a crime when the perpetrator is Theatre on Fire. The local theater troupe is making themselves right at home in a number of area residences for their unusual new production of Harold Pinterʼs “Party Time.”

Walking into a strangerʼs house to see a play may initially seem awkward but, true to its name, this theatrical experience is an actual party — complete with wine, snacks and a room full of people engaging in cocktail chatter. By the time the actual play begins, enough of a sense of comfort and community has been established that the impending voyeurism feels more like playful sport than objectification.

The guests at Pinterʼs party are a group of vapid, uptight society folks who are so deeply involved in their narcissistic existence as “haves” that they’re blind to the plight of the “have nots” right outside the front door. As sirens and seeming political unrest unfold within ear shot, the group gasps at the fate of Dame Melissa (Ann Carpenter) whose driver got stopped at a roadblock.

Feel free to laugh at their clueless, jaw-clenching existence, because Pinterʼs dark moment comes at the end of the play when you finally find out why Dusty (Kiki Samko) keeps asking about her brother Jimmy.

Itʼs uncomfortably comical when Douglas, a senatorial-like WASP with an eery resemblance to the current Secretary of State, proclaims, “We want peace, and weʼre going to get it!” in a tone that belies just a hint of knowledge of the issues at hand. Itʼs even funnier when his blonde, Stepford-like wife proclaims, “I canʼt believe how happy I feel,” with the conviction of a certain type of heavily medicated, middle-aged woman of privilege.

Nothing in particular happens at this party — it’s the subtext in the banality of the nothingness that is screaming to be read — but it packs a powerful punch that will make you feel good about not being part of this particular in-crowd.


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