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Comedy, Dance and Theatre
The Wild Party is based on a jazz poem
The Wild Party review
by Arthur Duncan
The Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton was treated to a modern take on a classic jazz poem.
Entering the auditorium, the audience finds anarchy on stage, just warming up; a reddish glow of iniquity infuses the suitably gloomy greys and blacks of the subversive scene.
A trio of jazz musicians is setting up at one side; Percy Pursglove on trumpet and double-bass, Doug Hough, drums and Alcyona Mick at the keyboard. Party hosts flit about creating chaos where they pretend to be making order. But only when their Taunton guests are all seated does the mayhem start.
A tremendous entrance via the auditorium by vocally uninhibited Rosie Kay, shocks and enlivens the whole place as Rosie, the show's director and choreographer, vitriolically explains and blames everyone for her 'late arrival'. She then alluringly transforms into a louche and alarmingly sexy siren as the party really begins.
Rosie Kay's Dance Company staged it
Throughout the show the band plays exquisitely - in the first half, a low-key sequence especially composed by Hans Koller as four active performers fill the stage with characters typical of drinks party politics: Who's come with who and who's going with whom, leads to emotional entanglement and misunderstandings.
Developed with dramaturg, Ben Payne, out of improvised dance, physical theatre and drama, perhaps with echoes from Alban Berg's ballet 'Lulu', the age-old, but tireless story unfolds.
Rosie's gender-rival is Sung-Im Her, originally from Korea. Ms Her is a hugely energetic presence, who's physical and vocal comedy delights. Engaging with the ladies are two guys: one, Morgan Cloud, gathered from far-off Hawaii, splendidly fills the role of 'nice young man'.
Morgan's performance is as meticulous and Anglicised as any Englishman might wish to be and a perfect foil to the hapless clown of Nick Carter. The women give Nick a hard time throughout the show but he's well fit for it; a qualified PE teacher, he chucks his own and everyone else's weight about with ease.
The seemingly improvised conversation, bouncing between these dancers-come-actors, is in fact the wittily rhyming verse from Joseph Moncure March's 1920s poem, “The Wild Party”. The poem is a rare literary classic of the jazz age and a lively surprise for lovers of popular poetry, previously unaware of its existence.
A 'sort of interval' is announced but it's as anarchic as the rest of the show and those who rushed to the bar missed a virtual continuum of humorous on-stage messing about; a mere lull before a storming second-half wherein the party gets wilder, and keeps audience pulses' beating excitedly to a satisfying close. Yes, there is thorough simulation of sexual stimulation.
Rosie Kay's Dance Company is a worthy component of the policy well in place at the Brewhouse, under artistic director, Robert Miles, to include innovation among traditional productions on Taunton's main stage.
last updated: 07/12/07