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Review: THE WITCHES OF OZ, The Vaults

Review: THE WITCHES OF OZ, The Vaults

Lions and tigers and bears...

Review: THE WITCHES OF OZ, The Vaults The Vaults scores another hit with The Witches Of Oz, a campy panto which takes as its starting point the classic 1939 film and its prequel musical Wicked.

Set a couple of decades after Dorothy returned to Kansas with pet pooch Toto, we meet the Good Witch (Grace Kelly Miller) and the not-as-dead-as-we-thought Wicked Witch (Feyi Wey), both campaigning to become Oz's Wizard In Chief. Accompanied by "henchthem" (Princess Bestman and Gabe Swarbrick) and other Oz favourites who have transcended gender, we are taken on a wild journey as they battle an existential weather threat: the Blizzard of Oz.

Anyone expecting just a show full of well-worked puns, glittery outfits and wigs that defy gravity will be sorely disappointed. It's all that plus some very pointed political posturing around sexual identity and gender fluidity (a typical running gag: "it's all a spectrum!") and, to a lesser degree, the impact of climate change.

Almost all the cast from the original film are here (Toto, alas, has gone to the kennel in the sky), albeit not quite as we remember them. Our returning heroine (Lily Downes) now has non-gender-specific pronouns and goes by "Dorothey". They are now into "hearts not parts" and dream of fields of aubergines and peaches. They soon bump into Scarecrow (Sara Nelson) who is now a science buff, fiesty Lion (Milla Sutton) who has become a dominatrix and Tin (Fizz Sinclair) who, following a reboot, has dropped the second part of their name. Together, this quartet go on the hunt for a new pair of slippers so that Dorothey can return home.

Director ShayShay's latest dinner-cabaret show doesn't skimp on the writing, the visuals, the music or the acting. Expect to be groaning, laughing or both at the onslaught of wordplay which judiciously hits the spot more than not. Eyeball-rolling references to "Ozford University" or "Kelly Ozbourne" can be forgiven when the Wicked Witch is revealed as "Adele Dazeem" (an inspired callback to John Travolta's infamous mangling of Wicked star Idina Menzel's name at the 2014 Oscars) or when the Lion turns to the Wicked Witch and says "I want to talk to you about a wardrobe."

With stages at both ends of the room, there are no bad seats in the house and Alex Clow's set design and costuming is appropriately trippy for the dream-like qualities of the 1930s film. Clancy Flynn (lighting) and Dafydd Gough (sound) both work wonders to lift the various fist-pumping musical numbers to another level. The food too is on the tasty side of experimental and, within the bounds of the three-hour show, there's no sensation of being rushed; in fact, kudos should be given for how smooth everything runs given the size of the crowd.

The Witches Of Oz is a fun, undemanding and joyful experience from end-to-end and the Vaults has proved, once again, that for dinner-cabaret there really is nowhere better in London right now.

The Witches Of Oz continues until January 14.

Photo Credit: The Witches of Oz

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