This is very much a first draft. I am supposed to be writing a french review of this concentrating on the dancing but i wanted to get some thoughts out first:
The story goes as this: Queenie is living with her clown boyfriend Burrs. Things are going badly in their relationship, that very morning they had a fight involving a kitchen knife. Yes, that bad. Queenie thinks a good solution is to throw a party. Her friend Kate (friend in the loose term) arrives with her new suave boyfriend Mr. Black. To cut a long story short Queenie and Black are drawn to one another whilst Kate and Burrs get it on. Eventually Burrs’ jealousy takes over and he attempts to shoot Black before getting killed himself.
Joseph Mancure March’s The Wild Party will already be familiar to Warwick audiences thanks to the recent MTW staging of Andrew Lippa’s version. Up and coming multi-talented hybrid Rosie Kay has now brought to the Arts Centre her own version. There’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s acting, yet the flavour is definitely different from the musical.
Audience members are greeted by a smoky stage already inhabited by the four performers and three musicians. Chairs wear bras and briefs, lipsticked champagne glasses litter the edge of the stage, a chandelier dangles over the pianist’s head. This set up, complete with the background of syncopating jazz, remains the same throughout the show, including the interval. The players switch from audience interaction, improvisation and impromptu dancing as “themselves”, with their “in character” parts where the text of the show is recited. Almost all of this text is taken directly from the poem. An example of free verse undermining and at the same time highlighting form it might be said.
The show running only seventy minutes it could be argued that an interval is superfluous. It seems the idea was to ask: when does one cease to play? Even as they pretend to be themselves in the interval, traces of characters linger, Nick Carter/Burrs clownishly cackles as he imitates the women dancing, Morgan Cloud/Black and Rosie Kay/Queenie indulge in some on-stage flirting. This abundance of energy and constant need to perform becomes a tad overwhelming, but eventually to effect: Burrs the clown eventually confiscates the drums in the second half and the silence speaks volumes of his anguish. This in turn employs the music most effectively for Queenie and Black’s lovemaking. The relocated drums find their footing lightly at first before building to a crescendo, accompanied finally by the trumpet and keys.
The show captures the fractured world of the poem admirably. The
four dancers through a series of portés capture the whirlwind of a decadent, yet ultimately superficial party. As the arches transform into angles so we see the framework explode with the accidental death of Burrs and the show’s sudden ending: the performers receive a blackout at last.