Wolf Hits A Wall: Immersive Wolf Of Wall Street Is More Wilko Than Wall Street
If you thought Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street was a celebratory romp through the rampant excesses of the unregulated investment banking Nineties and a £60 ticket to its immersive theatre version ought to have you snorting coke in a realistic New York night club, you’re in for a disappointment in this shallow, cardboard version.
The same team that’s recreating The Great Gatsby so splendidly in a Georgian Townhouse off Bond Street has kitted out a sprawling soon-to-be-hotel building off Broadgate as the HQ of Stratton Oakmont the real-life broking firm whose CEO Jordan Belfort was jailed in 1994 for ‘pump and dump’ share trading, and lionised as Leonardo di Caprio in the film.
If we've learned anything about immersive theatre in London, it’s that the meticulous attention to detail of Punchdrunk or BumBum Train with authentic scenes, props and characters is what makes the experience truly engrossing.
Wolf is extensive-to-sprawling and all the ingredients are here: it’s just that they came from Wilko rather than Wall Street. The bear-pit trading floor has six cheap flatpack desks and second hand carpet tiles, billionaire Belfort’s bedroom and kitchen look like the windows of Home Bargains, and when you’re obliged to run up five flights of stairs with the FBI raiders, it feels like being backstage at Noises Off.
The gaudy excess is well-referenced, especially in the opening share flotation scene — lots of throwing Monopoly money around to enthusiastic chest-beating and whooping. Props though to Matt Lucas lookalike James Bryant for stripping down to pink Y-fronts so that hundred dollar bills could be thrust into his elasticated waistband.
Wear something period — shoulder pads, striped braces — if you want to get picked by the performers and more engaged with the show, otherwise you can drift a bit through weakly-staged scenes and games: we ended up making paper chains for Belfort’s six-year-old daughter’s birthday party — not a barrel of laughs, even after popping the fake Quaaludes handed out on the trading floor.
It gets a bit more concentrated and plot-driven in the second half, but by then you may be too tanked — the bars are quite good — to follow the drama. The cast work conspicuously hard but don’t have enough script for every random situation and it all feels a bit under-weight: there are more barmen and bouncers than actors in the show.
However, if you’re with a bunch of co-workers and up for a turkey and tinsel-free ‘night out’ for your department that won’t frighten Mavis from Accounts, it may be just what you’re looking for.
Immersive Wolf of Wall Street, Secret Location, EC2. Tickets £59.95, until 19 January 2020.
Review by Nick Leeson.
Last Updated 29 November 2019