With an astoundingly talented cast made up some of the West End’s finest artists, The Wild Party is lavish homage to the jazz age of the 1920’s. From the sparkle in the costumes to a finely choreographed show, it is a spectacular production that tells the story of vaudeville showgirl Queen (Frances Ruffle) and her violent husband Burrs (John Owen-Jones). They decide to bury their marital issues by throwing a lavish wild party – and it is this very party that fills this show.
The majority of the first act is where the audience are introduced to each character, who take turns to sing, relating their story, detailing their current situation and profiling their partners. “My Eddie is a hero, just like Lindberg. Except Lindberg was white and flew planes, and Eddie’s black and beats people up.” This production explores many areas including gay relationships, infidelity, cross-dressing, racism and domestic violence.
We are introduced to Queenie who is desperately trying to re-live her time as a socialite, but with Vaudeville clown Burrs attempting to control her. With guests starting to arrive, including Phil and Oscar D’Armano (Gloria Obiango & Genesis Lynea), with every move in sync, lesbian couple Madelaine True (Tiffany Graves) and Sally (Melanie Bright), boxer Eddie (Ako Mitchell) and his wife Mae (Lizzy Connolly), her little sister Nadine (Bronte Barbe), producers Gold and Goldberg (Sebastien Torkia), vaudeville veteran Dolores (Donna McKechnie) and then finally Kate (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt) and her gigolo, Black (Simon Thomas). You may think this is a lot to pack into a performance that lasts over 2 hours, however this production makes you want to see more as the story progresses and as the party gets wilder!
The end of Act 1 saw my jaw hit the floor – it can often take a lot for this to be my reaction however this was a perfect ending for this act as it left me wanted to see what happened next!
The Other Palace which was recently renamed from St James Theatre is a fantastic venue for this intimate and in your face performance. With a clear and undisturbed view of the entire set, even from the back row, the audience are very much part of the performance. The set design is outstanding and allows us to see not only the cast appearing on the stage, but all around the set and gallery mixing closely with the musicians. With a stair case set on three levels, this also gives another dimension to the production, however on a few occasions it did make it slightly harder to see who was singing. Key pieces of furniture are brought on stage including a large bed, a chaise lounge and an old record player. These are all used well within Drew McOnies direction and choreography.
The music for The Wild Party is punchy and there is barely a moment where the band aren’t playing. With this being a sung-through show, there is a lot for us to hear but with catchy rhythms and often madness ensuing on stage – it was easy to be wrapped up in everything about this show. From my seat in the third row and with direct eye contact with the cast throughout – it is a show that encourages the audience to absorb everything it has to offer.
There are a number of moments in the show where this show stands out. The manic and thrilling scene at the end of the first act and then again during the last 10 minutes of the show, which deals with the morning after. It had me on the edge of my seat and a great way to end this production.
The Wild Party has set the bar high for the many shows that The Other Palace will see in the coming years. The show finishes its run on Saturday 1st April – if you can get yourself a ticket, please do – further details can be found on The Other Palace website.