As the cast sang a gentle rendition of ‘I need a dollar’ and handed out £80 worth of party vouchers, for the audience to award to their favourite performers for their rent, the fierce yet sensitive mood of the night was set.
Director, Darren Pritchard, and writer, Cheryl Martin, flawlessly achieved their goal of bringing a 1920s Harlem rent party to the UK in 2017. With brazen mention of child poverty, food banks, benefits and universal credit, the performance was a true reflection of what it is like for some people, particularly black and gay people, to live and rent in 21st century Britain.
Whilst a sassy sound track of songs like ‘cranes in the sky’ played in the background, each performer confided in the audience to reveal some of the trials they have faced as young, ambitious individuals in an austere society. Kamille Gordon showed us what hard work really entails as she proudly played us a video of her son and spoke about her employment with Asda on top her commitment to performing- to support him. Jason Guest, who has a voice more angelic than Chris Brown, shared his deeply personal and equally chilling account of his experience of being in an abusive relationship.
Even with a slightly serious undertone, the party atmosphere prevailed as the actors handed out shots to the audience and Kamille and Lenai entertained us with a dance off Queen B would be proud of. Stuart Bowden shamelessly sassed his way through the performance, leading a game of pass the parcel and a politically fuelled limbo.
The show wasn’t just a retelling of stories by 5 performers, the show was the 5 performers. Strong, fearless, talented performers whose stories need to be heard.
Grab your tickets while you can. Rent Party shows at the Crucible until 23 December.