It’s pay day but the rent’s going up. Heating bills are going up. Food prices are going up. Can’t afford to feed your children? Don’t worry. These performers get to sing for their supper.
Payday Party will find you in a cabaret bar. There’s a keyboard, music, a feisty soundtrack and sequins aplenty. The compere introduces four artistes. They’ll all get to perform for us, he explains. We’re handed payday pounds and we have to decide how each are rewarded. Each routine is accompanied by a brief story about their experiences to date. At which point, a straight-forward story about not making ends meet expands into a much bigger tale of not fitting in – for whatever reason.
The rapper, Darnell Williams, is the only brown boy at his primary school in Wales. Yasmin Goulden, the dancer – superbly attired in fishnets and a skirt of sequinned bananas in an adroit nod to Josephine Baker – is called Pocahontas as a child. Singer Emilie Parry-Williams was dismissed because she didn’t have enough money and didn’t go to private school. And poet Jude Thoburn-Price struggles with rising prices at a time when she yearns to retire. As each finishes their turn, they circle the audience: how much is their performance worth?
The stories are knitted together by a superb performance from Stuart Bowden as the flamboyant MC, all sass, whip-quick humour and swishing ponytails. There’s a neat, not quite realised tension with the currency we’re gifted: unless you do some hasty maths at the outset, you might not have enough to go round.
Most of these performances are signed and this is seamlessly incorporated into the performance. Common Wealth specialise in working with people with stories that aren’t heard often enough and this production does a brilliant job of knitting the stories into an entertaining, funny, clever, joyful performance.