How many times have you gone to a house party, knowing only one other person? But you’re all sociable people, so you have a bit (or a lot!!) to drink, perhaps a dance, a bit of chat with strangers and a good night is had by all… Unless, in the middle of the party, someone decides to propose (groan… surely you should do that while away on a minibreak?) but then the diamond ring gets dropped and stolen in the middle of it, no one sees the thief, and curses are cast!! Well that’s the kind of party you’ll find East London right now thanks to the Punch Drunk Theatre Company and Stella Artois.
Punch Drunk, the pioneers of ‘immersive theatre’ have teamed up with Stella Artois to promote Stella’s new product Stella Black, and they’ve given everyone the chance to get involved.
But if you wanted to take part, you had to be quick off the mark, because tickets to part one were snapped up pretty quickly. I was speedy enough to register for a pair of tickets so, last Thursday, with my cryptic email in hand; I set off for an unknown address in Shoreditch and on arrival, asked for the Diamond Cutter. It was as simple as that!
After asking for Jacques, the mysterious Diamond Cutter, we were given a warm welcome as well as a hand written note making sure barman ‘Claude’ treated us to his famous hospitality (which turned out to be the rather tasty Stella Black). On descending the stairs, we found ourselves in the middle of a 60’s style film noir house party, and it was a jam-packed and hectic affair, filled with concealed rooms, balloons, beehive hairdos, authentic props, red herrings, crazy guests, a curious audience, and a twisting plot. Throughout the performance, you’d be forgiven for confusing audience members and actors as everyone mingles together and half of the people in Shoreditch dress as though they could be on stage daily. One minute you’re contemplating the huge ‘Jacques ♥ Cecile’ banner and trying to figure out what is actually happening, the next you’re shouting ‘Surprise!’ when the blindfolded and soon to be fiancée Cecile enters the room. But after the proposal, things quickly take a turn for the worst, and the gate crashing audience soon find themselves on the streets. And Jacques’ friendship and hospitality isn’t enough to protect you from being viewed as a suspect and having your bag searched.
But what happens next? Unfortunately tickets for parts 2-7 are long gone, but you can follow the story online at http://www.stellaartois.com/black/ from the comfort of your own home, without the risk of being dragged off to dance with strangers. But it won’t be as much fun.
The Black Diamond is running from 3-21 July.