Witches of Oz at the Vaults
Queer culture meets pantomime meets a slap-up dinner in Witches of Oz, the new interactive show/dinner/party at the Vaults.
It’s 20 years after the events of The Wizard of Oz and trouble is stirring again in and around the Emerald City. The Good Witch and the Wicked Witch are courting votes to become the next leader of Oz, and all the other favourite characters are there too. There’s also a blizzard coming – the “blizzard of Oz”. (Strap in, that’s the level of humour viewers are getting throughout).
The story begins with 20 minutes of exposition, all the characters being introduced one-by-one and explaining how they’re all non-binary, gay or bisexual to a backing of gaudy music, suggestive dancing and a pretty constant barrage of innuendo. The audience is then pushed off down the yellow brick road into the dinner hall/Emerald City. The rest of the story takes place between courses, around and between the tables.
It’s… a lot. When it works, it works well; it’s extravagantly fun and it’s got heart. When it doesn’t work, it feels a little try-hard, cheesy and cringe-worthy – the same kind of energy that an anti-drugs troupe brings to a secondary school, if that school was for foul-mouthed perverts.
It gets better as the night goes on but that could just be the booze talking. With the opportunity to order more drinks before and after the intro, and between every course, this is not a standard two-drink theatre affair. One can quite easily be six drinks down by the time Tin changes their pronouns – and that’s probably recommended. This isn’t a show for people who aren’t willing to clap and cheer and shout along.
The whole thing is superbly staged with fantastic sets, lighting, sounds, costumes and makeup. The audience is drowned in loud, flashy, garishness, in a good way. The whole thing is quite epic, even if occasionally the low-budget pantomime tropes feel less so.
Witches of Oz certainly isn’t a show for everyone, but anyone who likes gaudy parties drenched in queer culture, corny humour, singing, dancing and whooping is sure to love this.
Witches of Oz is at the Vaults from 21st September until 15th January 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.