The Hope Theatre, London – until 28 January 2017
Guest reviewer – Sarah Tinsley
Cheeky, quirky, full of fun and fruit, The Wild Party gives you an intimate taste of the ’20s in a way you’ve never quite experienced before. Two actors adorn the stage. One is a lithe temptress who oozes charisma, the other is her offbeat sidekick who lurks in the shadows. Between them, they take on an impressive 16-strong character performance that tells the tale of a raucous party in the heat of a New York summer.
A reimagining of Joseph Moncure’s 1920s poem, Wild Party tells the tale of a dysfunctional couple named Queenie and Burrs, who decide to throw a part in order to reignite some excitement in their lives. Amongst the throes of oddball characters, disaster is lurking. With a light-hearted score of numbers and a progressively more hectic performance, the audience is drawn into their world, and towards the inevitable fatal ending, once all the gin has run out.
Minglu Wang’s set is sparse, with just a single item of furniture that morphs from a bed to a piano, and many things in between. Will Alder’s lighting adds to the general atmosphere, especially the shadowy conclusion. It’s not often you’ll get to hear a jazz-style rendition of ‘Seven Nation Army’ or ‘Toxic’, which add to the humour and frivolity of the performance.
The task the actors have is pretty challenging. Not only do they morph into different characters, they also tell the story as a third person narrator, leaving them in the awkward space between. Perhaps because of this melding between storyteller and character, there were times when the individuals got a little lost in the fray, between the whirl of words and actions. This was perhaps more noticeable with Joey Akubeze, but it was still impressive to see the vigour with which both of them brought to the stage. There was something delightfully physical about Anna Clarke’s performance, jumping from comic to seductive with a flick of her foot.
This performance didn’t quite hit the heights I usually expect from The Hope Theatre, but it was certainly a fun and riotous ride.