From the first time I heard that Zest Theatre Company’s ‘interactive production’ Gatecrash was coming to Mansfield’s Create Theatre, my interest was piqued.
Interactive theatre? ‘What do they mean by that?’ I thought.
So there was only one thing for it - I would have to go along and see for myself.
Before entering the theatre, the members of the audience were all handed a pair of wireless headphones and we were told there were two channels we could listen to - all we had to do was press a button to switch between them, which we could do whenever we liked.
That seemed simple enough.
So, we went into the theatre and found there was no stage or seats - we had instead entered the living room of Sam’s parents’ house.
I had been grabbed by a member of the cast on my way in - a rather dressed-up girl called Imogen - and was promptly poured a ‘Cosmo’, told to drink up and seemed to have been christened Millie.
It was all a bit baffling at first.
But then it sank in - we, the audience, were not actually the audience as such, we were in fact guests at the surprise birthday party being held for Sam, and as such were expected to join in. As in properly join in.
There was dancing, there was drinking, there was pulling party poppers and hiding from the neighbours - it was like being at an actual teenage birthday party.
And as all this was going on, we could listen to the conversations between the characters through our headphones.
There was Jonno trying to chat up Imogen, Sam trying to chat up Imogen, Jazz coming on to Jonno, Rachael arguing with everyone - the room was full of alcohol-fuelled angst and hormones.
It was funny and it was entertaining, though I was quite scared about ‘acting’ out scenes with Imogen as she told me about her life and bitched about everyone else’s - mine included.
I answered her questions and tried to engage but was far from pulling up any trees with my acting ability! I also do not know the dance routine to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies so that was an awkward moment!
The party finished after a major row between practically everybody and after some important life lessons were learned.
By this time, everyone in the ‘audience’ had more than got the message that inhibitions had to be lost and waved glowsticks around while pogo-ing like it was something we all did everyday.
Gatecrash was unconventional but fantastic and if something like this fails to convert young people to thinking they can enjoy the theatre, then there is no hope for anything else!