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Surprises, confetti, and cake
Birthday parties mean different things to different people – for some they are a reminder of time passing and the slow march towards death, for others they are riddled with anxiety about table settings and catering menus, while for others they are just an opportunity to eat cake with the people you love. What all good birthday parties should have in common is a few surprises and the opportunity to have a boogie, which All My Friends Were There has in abundance.
All My Friends Were There is a difficult show to review, mainly because to discuss it too much would be to give away the surprise. As an immersive theatrical experience, it requires its audience members to be bold, to make new friends and to graciously accept the invitations offered to them – much like any good party guest. A word of warning – do not come to this show if you do not want to participate. If you aren't one for joining in, if the idea of singled out by a performer makes you sweat profusely, give this show a miss. If you are able to overcome your shyness and allow yourself to get swept up in the spirit of the evening, you will be rewarded by one of the most delightful theatrical experiences Melbourne can offer.
The experience I had on opening night may end up being completely different to the one another audience member has – one of the best parts was talking to other people afterwards to compare notes and what we all saw and did. Although the night was not without a few technical glitches, that can be excused by the sheer scale of the piece – there are so many moving parts to All My Friends Were There, the odd hiccup can be easily forgiven. Presented by The Guerrilla Museum, it sets a new tone for the possibilities of immersive theatre in Melbourne and allows audiences a totally new perspective on performance art.
There will always be a place for worthy and emotional art, the kind that tackles the big issues and makes their audiences uncomfortable. But the importance of All My Friends Were There lies in the reminder that art can be joyful and fun, that it can be about discovery and having new experiences. The atmosphere of All My Friends Were There is one of dizzying excitement, something so hard to capture that sent us right back to our childhood birthday parties. And best of all, there was cake.