THE WITCHES OF OZ at the The Vaults
“ShayShay’s writing is undeniably queer and will make any friend of Dorothy proud”
Twenty years after her original trip, Dorothy – now non-binary, going by Doro-they or Dor to their friends (Lily Downes) – has returned to Oz to find an abysmal state of affairs. The Good Witch (Grace Kelly Miller) – Kelly, born in Oz, thus, Kelly Ozborn – is in the running for power but a great blizzard threatens to freeze everyone in a matter of hours. Dor finds themselves teaming up with old friends Scarecrow (Sara Nelson), Tin (Fizz Sinclair) and Lion (Milla Sutton) once again to save their beloved Oz by hunting down the assumed perpetrator The Wicked Witch of the West (Fèyi Wey). Puns and innuendo abound, The Witches of Oz – written and directed by ShayShay – treats its audience to a wickedly talented cast who offer singing, dancing and comedy all in equal strength.
The pop culture references are rife from The Wicked Witch’s name Adele Dazeem (an infamous faux pas by John Travolta as he tried to pronounce Idina Menzel) to Tin and Lion’s romantic duet of Take a Chance on Me as they walked across tables like Julie Walters in Mamma Mia. ShayShay’s writing is undeniably queer and will make any friend of Dorothy proud. The dialogue never misses a beat and any opportunity for a joke is taken. However, The Witches of Oz does not lack a message and behind all the ridiculousness the phrase ‘everything’s on a spectrum’ crops up time and time again whether this in relation to gender identity or morality. Climate change denial is also at the centre of the show as well as a call to listen to experts now rather than when it’s too late. These difficult topics are treated with good humour but still remain poignant.
The costumes (Alex Clow) are simply fantastic, and Tin looks particularly phenomenal in a full silver getup. The outfits and make-up are incredibly playful and creative with distinct personalities for each character. The sound and lighting design (Daffyd Gough and Clancy Flynn respectively) are equally great. The whole team does well to scale up the production from the small room where the room begins to the large room with two layered stages for its latter half. The songs chosen – both as dance tracks and for the cast to perform – are campy and fun and are sure to get the audience on their feet.
For an extra fee, audience members are able to enjoy the show with a three-course dinner that is vaguely themed around the film. Beginning with sweetcorn puree and corn bread to represent the yellow brick road, what follows is a buffet style selection of chicken and various greenery in homage to the Emerald City for main and an apple crumble – green, again – for dessert. You are also treated to an appetizer at entrance – a spicy piece of broccoli which – you guessed it – is green. It is a shame that each course is not in some way related to the Dorothy’s trio of companions or make reference to other iconic moments in the film – a candy cane for the Wicked Witch of the East’s socks perhaps, a tomato dish for Dorothy’s sparkly red shoes, or some sort of melting dessert à la our verdant antagonist’s famous death. Pleasantly, The Good Witch accompanies the dining experience with some cabaret tunes creating a real convivial atmosphere within the hall.
The Witches of Oz is an absolute riot and it would be impossible to leave without a smile on one’s face. The food is slightly disappointing but is generous in portion and kudos to the team for serving so many people with such swiftness. Overall, if you enjoy drag, cabaret and downright silliness, then this is the show for you.
Reviewed on 29th September 2022
by Flora Doble
Photography by Susannah Bond
Other shows reviewed by Flora: