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This Wild Party provides a stunning event for the Union


Review by Paul Nelson

WITHOUT a shadow of doubt, the absolutely must see show in London at the moment is The Wild Party, at the Union Theatre.

This musical, quite a big project for the tiny 'U', really exposes how shows like Chicago, and the rest of the West End's current output, sucks.

The plot is disarmingly simple. The first act is an expert examination of hedonism, the wild party in fact, and the second an examination of the result of too much excess.

I believe there are but two swear words in the entire show, which again proves a point. There are also 16 members of the cast, each given a turn to shine, and each one shining it on.

From the moment Black turns up at Queenie's party with Kate, there follows an inevitable course leading to the most moving conclusion of events. It would be a shame to divulge the plot, just be satisfied when I report that the evening gives scope for every member of the cast to wring your withers, excite you, depress you, and make you laugh, cry or marvel at the sheer exposure of talent.

And this show has talent in spades.

I cannot help but gloat that the tiny 'U' has once again stuck two fingers up to the West End and proved that all you need is talent, talent and talent. I apologise for beginning to sound like Tony Blair.

The start of that fountain of talent is of course Sasha Regan, who rooted out the show, and her co-director, Ben de Wynter.

These two packets of energy, responsible for other satisfactory shows in the past, have taken the raw material and created definitely the most exciting event currently in London.

The talent does not stop there, however. They have mustered a cast to take your breath away, and almost as a bonus provided a showcase for some of the most exciting people they have ever assembled in one show.

Not one member of the cast is weak and everyone gets a chance to take the spotlight throughout the evening.

A stand out for me was People Like Us, Where Do We Belong?, sung by Black and Queenie. Difficult to check your emotions when hearing that one. Difficult, also, to keep your seat while listening to Janet Kumah, the urge to stand up and cheer is almost overwhelming.

There naturally comes the moment when the audience has to make its mind up which member of the cast is his or her favourite. A hard choice here also.

Each member of the cast had the audience eating out of their collective hand.

Between laughter and tears, I recognised and hail the work of Jamie Kenna, Charlotte Marisa-Moore, Janet Kumah, Susan Travers, Jamie Anderson, Simon Masterton and Ben Nathan.

However, every member of this considerably gifted cast each managed to stop the show on one occasion at least, and the sound of an audience, practically knocked senseless with delight, must have provided even more music to their ears.

The considerable effort of Conor Mitchell, both as MD and actor, should also be noted.

I seem to be constantly praising this little theatre, and at the risk of sounding like a bore, must repeat it.

There is enough energy in this show to take not only the theatre, but also the railway arch in which it is situated, way out into deep space.

Miss this and you risk only hearing about it as a wild memory for the rest of your life. It is a stunning event.

The Wild Party by Michael John LaChuisa and George C Wolfe adapted from the poem 'The Wild Party' by Joseph Moncure March. Directed by Sasha Regan and Ben de Wynter, Lighting Designed by Steve Miller, Set designed by Alison Louise Brookes. WITH: Charlotte Marisa-Moore (Queenie), Ben Nathan (Burrs), Janet Kumah (Kate), Jamie Kenna (Black), Jamie Anderson (Jackie), Susan Travers (Dolores), Terence Anderson (Eddie), Philippa Burt (Mae), Kira Lauren (Nadine), Simon Masterton (Oscar),
Sioned Jones (Madelaine), Conor Mitchell (Phil), Aiden Crawley (Gold), Caroline Hartley (Sally), Andrew Whitlaw (Goldberg), Anna Corbould (Raquel). Musicians: Piano and MD Conor Mitchell, Trumpet Jill Grainger, Drums John Fleming, Guitar Chris. Produced by Sasha Regan and Ben de Wynter for the Union Theatre at the Union Theatre, Union Street, Southwark, London SE1. Tickets 020 7261 9876.

Photo kindly supplied by Stagephoto.co.uk

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