Little Triangle’s The Wild Party is a tale of debauchery, sin and the fine line between fun and fear.
Directionless vaudeville performer Queenie and her abusive boyfriend Burrs throw a party in their New York apartment. Before long, secrets begin to spill and infidelity becomes du jour for this group of friends, fuelled by prohibition-era bathtub gin and the false security of the apartment’s walls.
The sparse set was a perfect choice for the blackbox Reginald Theatre but having the band onstage took up much of the available room for the large ensemble cast. The rusted, derelict ‘Bowery’ sign – the vaudeville club many of the characters perform at – indicated that the band was placed here to help transport the audience into the world of vaudeville, but I question whether they might have been better placed along the catwalk above the stage. Conrad Hamill’s musical direction is tight and the band plays with as much passion as they have talent.
The female ensemble is flawless in their vocal performance, but the choreography is at times overtly sexualised. The Wild Party’s source material (the Joseph Moncure March poem of the same name) is an early celebration of sexuality, yes, but subtlety and restraint is the key to creating the fun, flirty atmosphere the script calls for.
The show opens with the chorines chattering away above the audience as they enter the theatre. I’m yet to experience a show where this choice has any impact: most of the audience either didn’t notice them or didn’t care to know why they were already onstage. In fact, the reason behind this choice was unclear to me, too.
The cast largely had a tendency to play for laughs and sadly I missed much of the dialogue. Vocal dynamics and certain stylistic choices meant that ends of sentences were often lost or drowned out in the midst of poor enunciation.
Matthew Hyde (Burrs) and Katelin Koprivec (Kate) commanded the stage with their powerhouse vocals but a lack of the same acting nuance displayed by other cast members failed to give their scenes the same power. Hyde’s rendition of How Many Women in the World? lacked the remorse and self-reflection contained in LaChiusa’s lyrics and ultimately brought the show to what felt like a sudden and slightly confusing end; if there was any explanation as to Black’s (Andre Drysdale) exit, it was lost amongst the rest of the scene to me.
Georgina Walker’s Queenie was played beautifully: moments of vulnerability beneath a highly controlled exterior were timed perfectly to show a well understood, three-dimensional character. However, Walker was one of the actors whose dialogue and songs I lost the most; a shame, because her talent and dedication to her craft is clear.
Another highlight of the show was the impeccable pairing of Oscar and Phil, played by Samuel Skuthorp and Michael Boulus respectively. Their energy and ease with each other was endearing and affecting to witness, and as a stickler for the small things, I must say that I was thoroughly impressed by the attention to detail in their matching costumes – right down to the matching watches.
The Wild Party plays until the 24th of November at the Reginald Theatre, the Seymour Centre. This exceptionally talented cast is a delightful team and the serious subject matter is a refreshing and much-needed change from our current mainstream musical theatre scene.
To book tickets head to www.seymourcentre.com
Written by Chantelle Gardiner