The Wild Party Review
By Elvan Faik
Writer : JOSEPH MONCURE MARCH
Director : RAFAELLA MARCUS
Actress : ANNA CLARKE
Actor : JOEY AKUBEZE
From an opening with two performers in tuxedos, making each other up to the sounds of Britney Spears to an ending which includes a bathtub, a shooting and the police, The Wild Party at the Hope Theatre captures the “poisoned paradise” of the 1920s jazz age in an entertaining and surprising evening.
Set during one night in 1920s Hollywood, our two performers tell the story of vaudeville performer Queenie and her clown lover Burrs and the party they throw one night, which ends in drama and tragedy.
The play starts with a jazz style rendition of Britney Spears’ modern classic “Toxic” – a song which reflects the story’s themes of danger, lust and sin and foreshadows the toxic relationship at the heart of the plot. After some basic scene setting, we see our performers transform themselves into the characters of Queenie and Burrs and the play takes off. To the soundtrack of some well chosen modern pop songs reworked as jazz standards, the story of Queenie and Burrs’ toxic relationship and their doomed party unfolds.
Over the next hour, Anna Clarke and Joey Akubeze transform themselves into a variety of jazz age party guests representing the very best and worst of that tantalising period, while telling a story which starts slowly and builds cleverly to a tense and memorable final moment.
Joseph Monclure March published his original narrative poem “The Wild Party” in 1928 but it was soon banned in some places for its risqué content and this production by Mingled Yarn highlights the sordidness at the heart of the jazz age.
The small space of the Hope Theatre creates an intimate environment where couples swap and lust becomes dangerous. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable and they flirt not just with each other but also with the audience, serenading us, sipping our drinks and drawing us all into the wildness of a party which will end in violence.
By the end of the evening the floor is covered in the real pulp of the “forbidden fruit” that they use as a recurring metaphor, eating with abandon and crushing the rest in hands and under feet with a carelessness that mirrors the behaviour of their characters.
The play ends with suddenly and shockingly. But while The Wild Party is a cautionary tale about the dangers of lust and violence, there is much to enjoy in this clever production which celebrates the decadence of the 1920s as well as its downfall.
Details of where you can see it!
The Hope Theatre 207 Upper St London N1 1RL
Box Office: 0333 666 3366 or Book online here
On until 28th January Tickets £15 & £12 concs
Photo Credits: Alex Fine Photography