They’re back! Thank goodness and very nicely decorated and refurbished too. I won’t spoil what they’ve been up to, but do go and see for yourself what the lovely people at the Phoenix have gone and done! To kick off the new autumn season we are served with a right cracker, The Party.
A richly dark social satire by Sally Potter moves in real time in the home (Islington, maybe?) of uber couple Janet (Kristen Scott Thomas) and Bill (Timothy Spall), who are hosting a small intimate gathering of friends to celebrate her promotion as Shadow Minister of Health. Bill, an acclaimed academic, however, is preoccupied and increasingly inebriated as he works through his old vinyl record collection, while Janet prepares food and takes calls from well-wishers.
Guests start to arrive, and a wonderfully eclectic liberal north London lot seem to be assembling. There is acerbic American, April (Patricia Clarkson) and her new age boyfriend Gottfried (Bruno Ganz); Martha (Cherry Jones) an academic colleague of Bill’s and her much younger heavily pregnant wife, Jinny (Emily Mortimer), and then a palpitating mass of turmoil that is Tom (Cillian Murphy) the ‘wanker banker’ arrives, rushing to snort coke in the bathroom and then assuring everybody with much perspiration that his lovely wife, Marianne, Janet’s assistant, is delayed but will arrive soon… or maybe by coffee!
Although all have seemingly come to praise Janet, each seems to be carrying their own dramatic news; seemingly everyone has secrets. Bill makes his own announcement, which is the catalyst for an escalation towards all-out confrontation; the canapes go up in smoke and the gathering of friends begins to unravel.
All of this wonderful fayre is crammed into a breakneck 71-minute, single act, black and white, ensemble piece throughout which Scott Thomas is in devastating form as she deals and then doesn’t, conceals and then reveals much ado about plenty!
It may be a view of the social elite, the political class, the insiders, but it shines a much needed light onto the human condition and our capacity to surprise one another. This ensemble are hilarious with belly laugh out loud moments (I’m sure the way I was laughing was a code violation), witty one-liners aplenty. The caustic and chaotic interplay is a joy to behold and this film zips along totally in tune and ends with a wonderful joke. A must see!