Olivier-winner Drew Maconie directs a particularly high-octane production of the musical at Victoria's newly named The Other Palace theatre (formerly the St James Theatre). Now under the ownership of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the theatre 'will be a home and breeding ground for musicals'. And its inaugural show is certainly musical-saturated, with near-constant choreography and more than 30 songs packed into two hours. Often though, this intensity comes at the expense of entertainment.
Based on Joseph Moncure March's narrative poem, with songs by Michael John LaChiusa, The Wild Party is made up of a tapestry of Vaudeville sketches, telling the scandalous Jazz Age story of dancer Queenie (Frances Ruffelle) and her abusive partner Burrs (John Owen-Jones).
They distract from their troubled relationship by throwing the titular 'wild party' for a motley crew of showgirls, musos and hedonists. Standout performances come from Dex Lee and coke-addled lothario Jackie, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as dancer-done-good Kate and Owen-Jones as a sinister clown version of Burrs.
The episodic nature of the verse narrative, the volume of songs and Theo Jamieson's superb jazz band all intensify the festive atmosphere; then, as inebriation falls to hangover, the barrage of energy and excitement collapses into a mournful finale.
Maconie never invites the audience into the the revelry, and there's nothing infectious about either the highs or the lows. As passive outsiders we remain all too aware of the brittle foundations and murky undercurrents of addiction, manipulation and hollow escapism.
The party might be wild, but you don't find yourself wanting to join in.
|What||The Wild Party, The Other Palace theatre review|
|Where||The Other Palace Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Victoria (underground)|
13 Feb 17 – 01 Apr 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£5 - £65|
|Website||Click here to book via The Other Palace Theatre|