The Office Party. We’ve all been to them before. Where everyone dresses up uncomfortably to mingle with people they don’t really know or like. Where people who never spoke a word in the office are suddenly snogging the married guy from accounts on the dance floor and puking down the stairs. It’s a time that most people like to forget. People drink through the pain of the event and this results in behaviour that should never be seen in public. Snogging, puking, sharing stories that should never be told… You know the drill. Well, grab all of that horrendous awkwardness and throw it into an evening at the Product Solutions HQ on North Roadin Islington…
Now, by reading this you are slightly ruining the surprise that I got when I first walked in the room, but at least you can’t say I didn’t warn you, can you? Upon entering the starkly lit corporate reception, you are given a name badge. This allocates you into different teams from executives and marketing to domestics and creatives. Oddly I took it as a compliment that I was looking particularly trendy that night, as I was bundled into the creative team, along with my date whose face definitely looked like he didn’t enjoy public humiliation. Look around the room and everyone’s face mirrors the image of the awkward employee hating every minute.
Each group is taken off to their own area. Creatives being dumped in the reception with our head of department Jonny, some plastic cups and some pretty potent tipple. Here we talked through the year, I got bullied for my rubbish Christmas tree attempt the year before. I also got thanked for my participation in the corporate video. Queue the video which consisted of Top Gun style music, funky angles and children running along a beach. In addition to that a random blonde chick waving her hair around in the wind. Here everyone clapped at my performance?! Then we proceeded to make up dance moves and a song (with individual people being picked on for lyrics) and then played the movie back to add our moves to it. It really was this painful. Somehow in a spectacular and wonderful way!
From here we were all bundled into the main theatre where balloons decorated the walls, Jonny took to the decks and the cash bar was rammed with people trying to soften the mortification. Here we meet the alcoholic CEO as well as the remaining heads of departments. The boring long speeches flowed into a flurry of office games, performances, talks and so many surprises you had no idea who was part of the act and who had paid for the pain?! One guy threw up, another sweaty individual suddenly burst into opera singing. There was even a naked dance. Even Cath from marketing suddenly ripped off her clothes and pole danced like she was in La Soiree. Unfortunately in extremely offensive beige pants.
Conceived and directed by Christopher Green and Ursula Martinez, they really do capture the beautiful discomfort of the office party. Everyone is doing exactly what they would do at a real office party – standing around awkwardly drinking. But you feel an absolute bond with your team, you suddenly have no idea who is acting and who is real. You are constantly surprised. You are constantly humiliated and you still manage to leave wanting to go back again. It’s not for the faint hearted and probably not for a first date. Unless you really wanted to test them. I am going back again – purely to see Tim from the Creatives, who I am convinced was an actor and looks identical to Gareth from ‘The Office’. Maybe asking him if he was an actor was the wrong thing to say. But at least I wasn’t on a date with him. It doesn’t matter that he thought I was a freak. Then again doesn’t everyone turn into a freak and leave after a fight at the OfficeParty. You can only hope. It makes one cracking show.
by Emily Bell
Product Solutions Head Office, Islington, North Road, London, N7 9EF