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Phil Willmott

Review: WOLF OF WALL STREET at Stratton Oakmont EC2

The Wolf of Wall Street Mention The Wolf Of Wall Street, and Martin Scorsese's Oscar nominated film with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role springs to mind. It's the true story of New York stockbroker, Julian Belfort, who over ten years made millions through corruption and fraud, and spent it all. By the age of 36 Belfort was a federal convict.

Now, the producers behind THE GREAT GATSBY, London's longest running immersive theatre production, invite you to witness Jordan Belfort's rise and fall, either as a new trader, or as FBI agents, entering Belfort's hedonistic world of drugs, sex and greed at the firm of Stratton Oakmont. It inhabits a new performance space near Liverpool Street and is spread over 4 floors, with 25 rooms sets.

When you arrives, having had the rules of the evening explained, you're shown towards one of three bar areas. Which narrative you experience depends on which bar you are standing in when the performance starts, the actors address the audience directly, and your journey either as new 'fish' of Stratton Oakmont, or as an FBI informant begins.

Julian Belfort (played with energetic charisma and bravado by Oliver Tilney) briefs us at a morning meeting, and having ascertained that we were loyal to the firm and have an unhealthy desire to make tons of money, demands that we hide the bundles of cash, which had just rained down, on any parts of our person.With hundreds of dollar bills littering the floor, and a quick 'upper' from the actors, the tone of the evening was set.

As each group head off to experience a different strand to Jordan's life, one couldn't help wondering what else you may have been privy to, if you had taken a different path. For our group, we were introduced to his assistant, Jacky ,(sassy performance from Charlotte Brown) and drug dealer, Todd, in a somewhat bare bedroom set, where plans about what to do with the money were discussed. Ushered through the wardrobe doors, we then entered not Narnia, but a bar, where we were joined by Jordan and Danny who explained that we would be headed to Switzerland, and proceeded to educated us in the art of hiding drugs ready for the flight.

Each of the scenes are played out in great detail, giving the actors solid roles to play, which not only demands audience participation , but equally gives the audience plenty to engage and immerse themselves in. After our visit to Switzerland, and further discussions about money deposits, bank accounts and forgery, we were hurried downstairs for an interval, the groups reconvened and ever changing stock prices lit up the walls of the bars .

Interval over, and by random selection, we were separated from our original group becoming part of a small team, some of whom had experienced different vignettes and story lines. Our roles as ruthless traders had been cut short, the thread gone cold, and we were now working undercover for the FBI, trying to bring down Belfort. The final climactic showdown in the arena style boardroom, brought together both a complete audience and cast. Having lost millions of clients money and with the FBI closing in, the wonderfully energetic and politically incorrect, coke fuelled, Danny (James Bryant) took center stage and has to decide between loyalty to Belfort or saving his own skin..

Wolf Of Wall Street works largely thanks to its talented and committed cast, skillfully directed by Alexander Wright, who has also managed to navigate smooth movement and cross over between spaces for the audience members.

Unfortunately, the set design of the rooms and open areas was disappointing, despite the locations being set in a world of excess wealth, there was no luxury in any of the design, and very little detail in the sets, much of it felt half finished, and an off hand remark by an actor, about it being cold 'because we were in Switzerland' was amusing, but highlighted that the vast space was not well heated and was very cold.

Of the 25 rooms we had visited less than half, one therefore can assume there were several scenes which we not only did not experience, but main cast members (such as Nadine, Belfort's wife) that we did not meet.

The enjoyment from immersive theatre comes from the unknown, entering a 360 degree experience, and for a few hours aided by a talented team, inhabiting a life different from one's own. Wolf Of Wall Street, manages to deliver all of this, without the fear of facing a jail sentence for your short time spent in an illegal, dark and greedy world!

The Wolf of Wall Street immersive experience