The Work Party – Steven McKenna

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“The Work Party” is a short independent film about a new colleague, Chris, being invited over for drinks under the guise of a big staff party by Ger. As the evening goes on Chris quickly realises that Ger is a bit off and the other guests will not be arriving. While Ger has taken this moment to try and become fast friends, Chris is incredibly uncomfortable leading to comedic moments between the two clashing characters.

Written, produced, and directed by Steven McKenna, “The Work Party” sheds light on the toxic relationships and male lens of workplace relationships. A two-hander featuring memorable performances by Luke Corcoran as host Ger, and Mark Coffey as ‘newbie’ Chris, the two have great chemistry in their portrayal of inappropriate colleague relationships. The black comedy style has a few brilliant moments, but at times it left this viewer wondering if the jokes about women were too real to laugh at.

The pace of the film begins slow, highlighting the awkward tension felt by Chris. Taking on the role of the uncomfortable participant, his counterpart Ger bounces off this discomfort. The overfamiliarity of Ger trying to break down boundaries with his ‘new best friend’ is humorous enough to make the viewer cringe, writer McKenna certainly hit the nail on the
head with this character of the intense co-worker. The set is an average apartment of a young professional, the two work in ‘sales’ and it is hinted that they are comfortable with money. However, the surrounding props make for an excellent foreshadowing. In the great tradition of Chekhov’s gun, the audience won’t see a weapon without it being used; therefore, the small apartment lined with knives, swords, and military propaganda should be a big suggestion as to what will happen as the night goes on.

There is a great comedic moment with the use of subtitles allowing the audience information that Ger is in fact a “dim-wit”, and that Chris is right to feel awkward. At one of the more intense parts of the film, the pair get into ‘locker room’ talk. By
discussing a female co-worker using derogatory language, it highlights Ger’s personality. While Chris doesn’t reciprocate using similar words, he does not call this out and basically lets it slip underscoring the culture of toxic workplaces in the intimate view of the male lens.

The camera work throughout is fantastic and really includes the audience in the piece in a very intimate way. During the meal, the camera paces back and forth between the two actors placing us in the other persons’ shoes. The final shot has Ger centered staring into the camera and directly at the viewer, giving the audience the voyeuristic feeling that the entire
piece was eavesdropping on a life they are not included in. As impressive as the immersive camera work is, the sound quality at times leaves a lot to be desired, unfortunately removing the suspension of disbelief. Disregarding that, this is an impressive short film and a credit to Irish black comedy.

To learn more about the film and director click here.

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