“The Wild Party” - Play Review

Story posted November 23, 2021 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Ethan Hetrick

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — WARNING: The show contains explicit themes such as sex, alcoholism, vulgar language, and abuse.

For over a week straight, the Playhouse Theater is filled to the brim with fans of “The Wild Party.”

Calling this show wild is putting it mild.

The show takes place during the 1920’s, with the main character, Queenie, a showgirl who likes violent men, sleeping around until she finds an abusive man with the name Burrs who “satisfies her needs.”

Queenie eventually feels stuck with Burrs and can’t escape. When she and Burrs come to blows, she threatens him with a knife.

When the exchange is over, she wants to make Burrs appreciate her more, so she convinces him to throw a party and she’ll show him that she is a queen.

Then the party begins. With dazzling lights shows and dance numbers to go along with the amazing music, the party is a wild one.

The party first introduces the guests, like boxer Eddie and his wife Mae.

The side characters are important to the play because most of them get their own musical number to provide breaks from the more intense plot of the party, as well as narration of what life was like in the seedy, underbelly of the 1920’s.

The highlight of the side character’s break was while everyone at the party falls asleep, the one without tongue does a beautiful interpretive dance instead of singing which provides a unique, standout scene from the entire play.

Back to the main plot, during the party Queenie’s best friend Kate arrives with a man known as Mr. Black in an attempt to get Queenie to go with Mr. Black so she can have Burrs to herself.

Queenie and Mr. Black slowly bond together throughout the party, falling in love with one another, but Burrs keeps holding her back.

Burrs grows jealous toward Mr. Black and is suddenly infatuated with Queenie and wants her to himself.

As Burrs drinks more and more in the show, he slowly gets more violent, to the point where he gets in a fight with Eddie believing that Eddie’s wife Mae is Queenie.

Queenie, as she slowly falls for Mr. Black, does have the conflict to stay loyal to Burrs and doesn’t know who to choose.

When Mr. Black reveals that he is an ordinary bouncer, although a playboy, is just trying to find the one, it makes Queenie swoon over him, and eventually, Queenie chooses Mr. Black.

Burrs, eventually notices he is losing, decides to just drink and doesn’t care if he wakes up.

He eventually drinks so much that he ends up sleeping with Kate during the show's whole-cast intimate scene. Queenie and Mr. Black end up sleeping together.

During the night, Burrs wakes Kate.

Kate notices his rougher side and pushes him away. In a drunken rage, he searches for Queenie but only to find her sleeping with Mr. Black.

Burrs attacks Queenie physically and verbally, until Mr. Black intervenes and the two start fighting.

Burrs eventually pulls a gun on the two and sings who's it going to be.

In that moment the audience feels the intensity of the situation that someone will die.

That person is Burrs when Mr. Black lunges at him and accidently hits the gun which fires and kills Burrs.

Queenie, upset, gets Mr. Black to flee the scene and in the end, Queenie is alone with no one to love, but leaving the audience even more stunned until their raising cheers for the show.

The play is a tragedy. It shows the effects of abusive relationships and how people feel trapped into them, unable to escape.

It shows the sad truth that not everyone can end up happy. It also shows the dangers of alcohol and how it can make people dangerous with Burrs exemplifying that well.

The acting and musical numbers were phenomenal. Queenie’s actress had the feel of a beautiful showgirl; one that is strong yet at the same time trapped in hopelessness.

Burrs and Mr. Black feud was always delightful to see and left the audience on the seat every time there was confrontation between the two.

The drunk Burrs, and the rage that came with him, was displayed so well in the actor’s performance.

What was interesting was the visuals of the shows. Each dance sequence had an effortless ease to it. Even when mistakes happened, the audience could never tell.

Plus, the lighting was well done, really highlighting the party and each character.

Lastly, the makeup was beautiful. The small dark touches to Burrs’ eyes to make him seem drunk is a small yet important detail that adds so much more to the musical.

Most importantly, the music was good. Each song flowed perfectly to the next.

The intensity of confrontation or the light-hearted side characters' songs were displayed spectacularly; highlighted by Queenie’s magnificent range and the orchestra’s perfect performance throughout.

The only flaw in this play was in one song where Kate, Queenie, Mr. Black and Burrs sing about their love life, their words are mixed, and it was hard to comprehend what anyone was saying.

Ultimately, “The Wild Party” is a spectacular play and for anyone that thought plays were silly and light-hearted, this is the play to change their perspective into the adult world of musicals.

Rating: 5/5

Ethan Hetrick is a first-year communications major. To contact him, email eth5186@psu.edu.