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The Wild Party review at Riverside Studios London

Four years ago, a twenties narrative poem called The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March was simultaneously brought to musical life on Broadway by Michael John LaChiusa and off-Broadway by Andrew Lippa.

Though neither edition had a commercially viable life, their vibrant, evocative scores were both recorded. It is fascinating to see and hear how each show began life separately yet arrived at the same destination in telling the impressionistic tale of a relationship in crisis that is catastrophically tested by mutual infidelities one wild night.

Where New York leads, London eventually follows. The LaChiusa version received its premiere here in a production that downsized the show to fit Southwark’s tiny Union Theatre last Christmas and now it’s the turn of the Lippa edition at Hammersmith’s more expansive Riverside Studios.

A large cast of recent drama school graduates are somewhat overstretched both by the size of the venue and the fact that they are mostly too young for their roles and are not helped by the absence of amplification for their voices, which have to compete with the band.

But this is nothing if not an ambitious staging and director David Dorrian and choreographer Andrew Gordon-Watkins keep the stage in restlessly fluid motion. Designers Emanuele Lugli and Federico Zanfi likewise maintain a cyclorama slideshow backdrop moving to visually arresting effect.

Of the cast, it was a pleasure to see Aaron Romano, whom I singled out from his student showcase at Central in April, already making his mark in a fringe production.

Production Information

Riverside Studios, London, July 27-August 7

Author
Andrew Lippa, based on a poem by Joseph Moncure March
Director
David Dorrian
Producer
Tayla Holdaway for LOST Theatre Company
Cast includes
Heather Panton, Robert Archibald, Andrew Thwaite, Helen Hurd
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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