What could go wrong when you throw a party full of…
Gin. Drugs. Gin. Jazz. Gin. Sex. Gin. Lust. Gin. Jealousy. Gin. Rage. Gin. Ambition. Gin, gin, gin.
Find out, if you dare, by rouging your knees and donning your best Gatsby era cocktail party finery and attend The Wild Party. Transforming the steely Hangar at the Stanley Marketplace into an intimate, lush apartment of satin and sin, is nothing short of a miracle. Creative minds from the Denver Center and Off-Center have crafted an experience unlike any other in Denver theater today. The stagecraft, costumes, and attention to period details are top notch, and a live jazz band sets the raucous tone.
When the party starts, the fourth wall almost completely evaporates as the actors mingle with the audience, dancing, chatting, sipping cocktails. This format could have felt forced and artificial, yet the incredible cast does an excellent job of staying in the moment and elevates the evening to authenticity. Their voices are outstanding, and a clever stream of songs develop their characters and move the story along. The acoustics are a challenge as are the pillars that block views, but these are nitpicks- with so much action going on all around you (just like in a real party) you absorb much of what’s happening, including the cauldron of emotions and personal demons lurking under the glittery, smiling surface of your fellow partyers.
The level of audience participation declines significantly as the party roars into the second half. This is when the gin
consumption kicks into high gear (by actors and audience alike!) and the intimacy turns into sexuality and nudity, so it is probably good for everyone’s sake that the evening becomes more “hands off”. To call this an intimate experience is an understatement, when barely clad characters wind their way through the audience and a topless female actress stares you down, hissing strange noises at you. But it is a bit of letdown, after being such a fully engaged party goer participating in the good times, to return to being a seated audience of fly on the wall voyeurs.
In the end, a rather typical story is told in a memorable atypical format. A grand time is had by (almost) all – but at what cost, and with what regrets? Anyone who has nursed a hangover and wondered “What happened last night?” will recognize themselves in The Wild Party, leave entertained and perhaps a bit wiser.
Check your puritanical inhibitions and expectations of Denver theater at the door, and dive into The Wild Party!