The Wild Party | Victory Gardens Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 1 2014
Price: $40
Bailiwick Chicago's The Wild Party leaves blood on the stage in more ways than one. First there's the unfolding of the lurid tale itself, which culminates in gunplay and somebody lying dead on a bed. But there's also the mad intensity of the production as choreographed and directed by Brenda Didier, sung and hoofed and hopped up by a cast of 15. Clearly, these folks take the "wild" of the title as a sacred trust. Two recent musicals have been constructed around the scandalous 1926 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March. Bailiwick has chosen to present the one featuring music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and a book by LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe. Like March's original it tells the tale of Queenie, a "sexually ambitious" vaudeville dancer with legs "built to drive men mad." Her current conquest is Burrs, an alcoholic clown. Burrs is a jealous and violent lover, but that's how Queenie thinks she likes it. One day, bored and coming down off a spat involving a kitchen knife, they decide to take the edge off by throwing a party for a few friends—including, fatefully, the very successful Kate and her latest boy toy, Black. The rest is bathtub gin, indiscriminate sex, cocaine, and some very bad karma. After LaChiusa's quirky-smart score, one of the great things about this Wild Party is the guest list. We make the vivid acquaintance of (among others) Jackie, the WASP decadent; Phil and Oscar, the black gay couple who dance together as "brothers"; Dolores the aging but exceedingly tough diva; Nadine, the Broadway-dazzled 14-year-old; Sally, the drug-dazed appendage of lesbian entertainer Madelaine; and of course Gold and Goldberg, would-be producers and "Jewless Jews" who are so confused about their deculturated identities that they forget their names. (The depiction of G&G is so stark that it may be read as anti-Semitic by some, but these guys don't come off any worse than the rest of the tragic, hilarious guests.) Danni Smith's Queenie, Matthew Keffer's Burrs, and Patrick Falcon's Black are particularly riveting, but then every performance is sharp, and the show as a whole vibrates as fast and vertiginously as the heart of a cokehead. —Tony Adler



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