‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ review

Theatre, Interactive
2 out of 5 stars
The Wolf of Wall Street 2019
Photograph: Matthew Walker

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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Soul-crushing immersive adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s bad boy banking memoir

The press night for this immersive theatre adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s infamous memoir ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ was delayed by almost two months as the production was beset with issues. Now that it has finally opened, it’s not been worth the wait. 

You have to wonder what director Alexander Wright was thinking when he decided to adapt ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. What sort of contribution was he hoping to make to the world of theatre? Was there something about ‘Wolf’ that was particularly emotionally resonant, or artistically valuable? Or was it a cynical recognition of what audiences expect from immersive experience and how a play about drugs and money and swearing was an obvious way to cash in?

Anyone unfamiliar with Belfort’s memoir or Martin Scorsese’s more famous film version probably won’t follow the story. Suffice to say, the Wolf is Jordan Belfort, and he’s making a lot of money, illegally, on Wall Street. Everyone gets rich and parties, then the FBI close in and it all goes to hell. 

Audience members are funnelled into different rooms and up and down stairs to watch various interminable shouty scenes; by the end, many were yawning and shifting restlessly. Much of the set design money has gone into the three rooms with bars (the boardroom in the basement is worth a peek). Most of the other rooms feel like liminal spaces, barely filled by cheap furniture and draped sheets on the ceiling.

Character development consists of people yelling ‘fucking’ every seven words and getting horny for fake $100 dollar notes, with the exception of Nadine Belfort, Jordan’s long-suffering wife, who is played with ferocity, tenderness and complexity by Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty. Charlotte Brown as fire-breathing PA Janet and James Bryant as king clown trader Danny are also glimmers of light in the sludge, quick-witted with the banter.                       

Overall this is a soulless, tedious production with very little to recommend it, least of all the rest of the audience, who do get suspiciously enthusiastic about racist slurs and misogyny. Give this a miss and try Wright’s long-running ‘Gatsby’, which does everything ‘Wolf’ tries and fails to do.

By: Ka Bradley

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