Review: Working Class Dinner Party (Progress Festival / Scottee and Friends)

photo of Scottee before Working Class Dinner PartygWorking Class Dinner Party is “a joy to have dinner with”

There are times when it doesn’t matter what the description of a show says; I have no idea what to expect. I think of it as ‘theatre roulette.’ Sometimes they’re the best experiences. Working Class Dinner Party, part of the Progress Festival, is one of those shows.

In his introduction, Scottee said this wasn’t a dinner party; it was a performance of a dinner party. There were guidelines; among them, no talking over anyone, be kind. Those two alone were enough to remove it from the ‘real’ dinner party category. My 11-year-old grand-kid was quizzing me before I left for the theatre.

“So is it in a theatre?”

“Yes.”

“Does everyone sit at the table?”

“Dunno.”

No.

There were 12 chairs at the table. Initially, Scottee sat at one end and Sam (Curtis Lindsay), the director, sat at the other. After about 20 minutes, three guests, Shaista, Ian, and Rhiannon, joined them.

The audience sat on the four sides of the table. Scottee invited any of us who wanted to add to the conversation to join them at the table. Some of us did.

“Do you get to eat?”

“I think so.”

Yes.

Scottee told us in his introduction that pizzas would arrive and be ‘thrown on the table,’ and that would signal a change in the performance. It arrived, it was thrown on the table, we ate.

Rather than the pre-dinner conversation, Scottee asked questions, mainly about what we wanted from the upper class, and we — the audience — called out answers. Apparently we — the audience — really don’t like the upper class and feel that they don’t do or give their share to society. I can’t say I was surprised.

Scottee and Sam both come from working-class backgrounds and consider themselves working class artists. But how do you define working class? That was the overarching theme of the evening.

Is it how much money you earn? Or where you live? How you talk? The food you can afford, or eat, or where you buy it? The work you do or don’t do? Your education? Your aspirations? The way you grew up? Something else?

We didn’t arrive at a definition. There is no one answer; no ‘one size fits all’ definition.

As an aside, this wasn’t a performance that lent itself to note-taking; it would have felt disrespectful to take notes. That does mean that there are some details that I’ve probably missed or times that I haven’t used the words that Scottee used. My memory apologizes.

Overall, I enjoyed Working Class Dinner Party so much. I liked that it was unscripted and that Scottee was there as a guide. It could have gone in so many directions. It made me wonder what has happened at other performances.

I wish there were more performances so more people could experience Working Class Dinner Party, but last night was the only one. Scottee is funny, edgy, self-deprecating, a joy to have dinner with.

Even though you missed dinner, you can see him in Class, his one-person show, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It’s also part of the Progress Festival.

Details:

Picture of Scottie by Holly Revell

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