Thursday, 6 July 2017

REVIEW: Sh!t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Leicester Square Theatre

The idea behind Sh!t-faced Showtime is simple: five classically trained musical theatre actors perform a production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with one of them – chosen in turns – who spent the hours preceding the show drinking and will inevitably appear on stage totally shit-faced. First launched by the Magnificent Bastards Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010, the original format Sh!t-faced Shakespeare has caused a mayhem around the world, allowing the creatives to expand their repertoire and explore the realm of musical theatre. 

When the lights of the Leicester Square theatre went down and the performance started, it didn't take me long to identify in Alan McHale the Guinea pig of this theatrical experiment. His wobbly attempt to follow the choreography as one of the Munchkins and the giggly mumble that replaced his lines as the Scarecrow became the main entertainment of an unpredictable Sunday evening at the theatre. 

Two audience members were entrusted by the compere (David Ellis) with a recorder and a xylophone to attract attention when they reckoned that Mr McHale needed his glass to be topped-up. A third person was assigned a metal bucket, in case things went horribly wrong. 

Whilst McHale's colleagues committedly endeavoured to carry on with their parts and deliver some of the most famous tracks from James Patrick Doyle's classic musical, our drunken protagonist moved on stage like a leprechaun, making inappropriate comments and messing up with the script. He suffered wardrobe malfunctions, caused a drink spillage and manifested some serious confusion about his sexual identity, especially when he suddenly developed an unrestrained physical attraction for Dorothy (Issy Wroe Wright). 

Both her and Dora Rubinstein, in the role of Glinda and Lion, have beautiful
voices and their numbers added quality to one of the rowdiest evenings in town. If you fancy an evening out at the theatre but you can't face the length and pomposity of many West End productions, head in faith to the Leicester Square Theatre, where the Magnificent Bastards will regale you with an hour of disruptive performance and the most spontaneous comedy you could ever witness on stage.

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★★
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