Rent Party is one of the hottest theatrical parties – review

Sam Taylor

This Christmas, Sheffield Theatres invites you to a party like no other…

This time of year, we all know what it’s like to have a few too many drinks at a party and end up telling personal stories with complete strangers. Here, an eclectic combination of cabaret, audience participation, heartfelt storytelling and a theatrical experience is sure to get you up on your feet.

Darren Pritchard’s inventive production is inspired by rent parties of the 1920s, a time where wages were low, rent was high for the black community, and the only way to make any money was to open up your home and turn it into one of the hottest party venues in town.

High-energy partying, cabaret acts and audience participation is sharply contrasted with solemn monologues and satire, this piece moving swiftly and giving an insight into the harsh past behind these versatile entertainers. Just as in the 1920’s, you pay each performer their worth based on the acts you observe; monopoly money, of course, but it keeps that political message flowing.

Related: A new Oz rises with this exciting production of The Wizard of Oz – review

Jason Guest shows versatility as a roller-skating, power-singing, voguing sensation. Kamille Gordon displays her impressive vocal talent with her childhood dream of being a star with AJ LeRoy keeping the songs flowing with his musical direction.

Lenai Russell keeps the party moves pumping with her incredible dance skills while Stuart Bowden masterfully owns the space as a party host dealing with heckles and orchestrating the many party games that keep the audience on their toes and in-the-zone.

All bases are covered: gay politics, poverty and the class system, domestic abuse, prejudice and discrimination. However, the pace and atmosphere never lets the show slip too far into dark and despair. Just as the heart starts to pound and a tear starts to fall, we’re speedily sent into the next party game or cabaret act.

With the atmosphere  electric and the political messages flowing, Rent Party is a show that unites it’s audience and takes you on a journey like no other – all topped off with an interactive dance party.

Gay Times gives Rent Party – ★★★★

More information can be found here.

Words Ben Millerman

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