The Wild Party continues at The Hope Theatre, London until 28 January.
Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
‘The classic Jazz Age tale of sex, sweat and sin’: Mingled Yarn’s revival of The Wild Party bursts into the intimate Hope Theatre with enough punch to shake you out of your January blues once and for all and pull you back to the much more enjoyable roaring twenties.
With sass, sex and pizzazz, this production has everything you would expect from a staged version of Joseph Moncure March’s racy poem and it is refreshing to see this performed.
Our two cabaret stars (played by smooth Joey Akubeze and the visually commanding Anna Clarke) swing their way through the text as if it naturally appears in their minds seconds before. Their energy and charisma is contagious and leaves audience members wide -eyed.
Rafaella Marcus’ direction is sharp and witty and the movement between Clarke and Akubeze, choreographed by movement director Sara Green, seems effortless as the actors constantly pull each other across the stage.
In addition to March’s impressive spiral of words, the production is peppered with jazz, twisted into the form of modern pop classics.
Clarke welcomes the audience with a seductive take on Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ which is the perfect entrance music to lure you into your seats. Clarke leaps from each note with ease and the jazzy take on the number is sublime.
Marcus’ direction is smart and punchy, with interesting props popping up throughout the performance. The use of a vinyl disc in replace of a murder weapon is genius, and each time the actors shatter an old record the impact on the audience as if it could really do some damage.
Saying this, there is also the repetitive use of fruit throughout the play which turns out to be more distracting than effective.
Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn has cast this intimate production perfectly. Clarke is sassy and bold, while Akubeze, although strong and vibrant, is poised and serene. The two bounce off one another and are thoroughly enjoyable to watch.
The pace throughout is appropriately fast but a break in speed would have been welcome in order to keep up with all the twists and turns of the story.
Designer Minglu Wang does a superb job and the set matches the playfulness of the production perfectly.