I stumble out of the now-parked limo feeling good after drinking a few more vodka and cokes than I’d like to admit. As our lively group makes its way from the stretched SUV toward DeLongpre Park, I can’t help but feel slightly guilty about giving Kate, the bride-to-be, an impassioned argument against committing herself to the very man she’s about to marry. But the moment passes quickly when we’re joined by the groom’s bachelor party and the sight of something unexpected cuts through my drunken soul-searching.
Is that a…clown?
Best Night Ever: A Bachelor(ette) Night is a new, 21+ immersive production that seeks to recreate the unhinged fun of movies like The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Wedding Crashers, while also serving as an energetic snapshot of modern relationships and the stress and expectations that come with tying the knot. Debuting as part of the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, Best Night Ever is a collaboration between Katnip Productions, #metaforyou and Bees Knees, and directed by Katy Foley and Terence Leclere. Highly interactive and largely improvised, guests are a key part of the show, as they join a soon-to-wed couple for a raucous limo ride and a bachelor or bachelorette party for the ages.
As you arrive, you’re greeted by Kate Trotter (Katy Foley) and Leo Fish (Sean Will), a young couple eager to tie the know after about three years of dating. After the party orders a drink or two, takes some photos and shares some gossip courtesy of the best man, maid-of-honor or another member of the wedding party, guests are then placed in either the bachelor or bachelorette party to board one of two waiting limousines that head off for an anarchic ride down Hollywood Blvd.
With a total of eight live performers (and one additional one who makes appearances via FaceTime) to ten audience members, Best Night Ever‘s performer-to-audience ratio lends itself to a lot of interactivity and much improvisation on the part of the performers. Over the course of the one-hour show, you might find yourself playing games of “Never Have I Ever,” picking up a stripper, dropping by an ex’s place, and enjoying far more free champagne than you intended to. You’ll also likely find yourself confided in by a member of the bride or groom’s party, who might have a pretty strong opinion about whether or not this marriage should be happening. And it just might ultimately fall on you to ensure it takes place…or doesn’t.
Comedy is still a pretty rare genre within the Los Angeles immersive scene, so it’s refreshing to experience a show that embraces it fully. Yes, there are a few themes to be found deep within, such as how much our relationships are informed by others’ views of them, and how frequently we assume we know what’s best when it comes to our friends. However, these really seem secondary to playing your part in a night of cleverly staged debauchery. Throughout Best Night Ever, I found myself laughing and cheering on behavior I’d probably be ashamed of in other circumstances. One of the great things about parties with trusted friends – and immersive shows like this that recreate them – is how freeing they can be. Best Night Ever gives its audience a chance to experience something exciting, unruly and a little irresponsible, and do it in a way that’s likely to end much more positively than most drunken nights of revelry (for the audience, if not the couple).
It helps that you really do feel like you’re at a bachelor(ette) party. The creative team here has included all of the essentials – booze, loud music, bad behavior, penis whistles… you get the idea. The characters, regardless of which limo you find yourself in, are ready to party and more than happy to top off your glass. As as result, it’s extremely easy to settle into your role as a longtime friend of the bride or groom celebrating their final nights of singledom. And let’s talk about those two limos. While the two parties intersect near the end of the show, for most of it, the bachelors and bachelorettes remain separate, essentially making this two shows in one. There are also a trio of possible endings and diverging paths within the two parties. Best Night Ever is a show that can and likely would be experienced more than once, provided it gets remounted at some point.
That said, there are a few things worth keeping in mind before snatching up a ticket if that happens. All live theater has an undercurrent of unpredictability to it, but an alcohol-tinged immersive show set in a moving limousine with audience members and performers all in close proximity to one another practically turns unpredictability into an art form. I saw Best Night Ever on a Saturday night, and traffic along Hollywood Blvd. was terrible, which led to sudden stops, which led to more than a few spilled champagne glasses. The show is supposed to be a party and party fouls do happen, so if anything, these mishaps just served to make the entire thing more realistic, but I’m still glad I wasn’t wearing my best pants. Also, I’d imagine a show this boozy, with sexual confessions and an actual stripper probably isn’t for everybody. But if you’re cool with the content and know what you’re in for – and Best Night Ever certainly doesn’t hide what it is – it’s hard to imagine you having less than a great time.
If you’ve been to a bachelor or bachelorette party, you know that there’s a certain amount of trust and secrecy associated with it. What happens in the limo stays in the limo, so to speak. Well, I certainly hope Kate and Leo can forgive me because I’m telling everyone I know about theirs. This is a show worth talking about, especially if it ever comes back, and the performers and producers behind it deserve to have their names spread across town (or at least within the immersive theater circle). Best Night Ever is an absolute blast. A tribute to relationships that knows even the ones that may not last are still worth celebrating.