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Review of Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Shit-faced Showtime - Rah Petherbridge
Shit-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Rah Petherbridge

I’m not afraid to stand up and say ‘I am a friend of Dorothy’. Yes, it’s true. I’ve seen the original 1939 film story of Dorothy Gale hundreds of times, dipped my toe into ‘The Wiz’ saw the rather disastrous National Theatre production a few years ago and have defied gravity on countless occasions with the cast of Wicked. So when I was asked to go along and see a new version I couldn’t wait to click my ruby slippers and say ‘There’s no place like the Leicester Square Theatre’ and there I was ready to experience Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

You all know the story. Dorothy (Issy Wroe Wright) is upset as nobody understands her, so she vows to run away. She does so as a cyclone hits her farm and she gets blown away to the land of Oz. Her house kills a bad witch – and this upsets the witch’s sister (Nick House) – and somehow Dorothy must make it to the Emerald City with the help of a brainless scarecrow (Alan McHale), a tin man (Tom Tilley) – missing a heart – and a cowardly lion (Dora Rubinstein). Once there she can ask the all powerful wonderful Wizard of Oz to send her home to Aunty Em and the rest of the black and white people.

Now, Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is no ordinary telling of L. Frank Baum’s story. In fact, every performance is totally unique. For a start, we have a compare (David Ellis) who explains how the performance will be working. In essence, a few hours before the show starts, there is a party where only one randomly selected member of the cast is allowed to drink alcohol. In the performance I saw, it was the scarecrow and, after consuming nearly two bottles of wine pre-show, he was definitely on the wrong side of tiddly when he first appeared complete with a wicked grin on his face. However, the fun with the show is that the rest of the cast needs to ensure the story gets told whilst also reacting to whatever antics the inebriated actor may get up to. In this case, this meant the show ended in a way I’ve never seen before and would have though anatomically impossible. Along the way, there were some real laugh out loud moments, both planned and spontaneous and some wonderful improvisation by the sober cast to bring whatever the scarecrow had said back into line with the story or even invent something on the spur of the moment. So, in my show, we had Dorothy telling the scarecrow that the puppet Toto – and I so want one – couldn’t move on his own as he had dead dog syndrome. You get the picture.

I have previously seen and reviewed the sister show to Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which is Sh*t-faced Shakespeare, and I have to admit I thought this was the better of the two and also the more difficult for the actors. As well as lines, there are songs to be harmonised, not to mention choreographed dances and fast costume changes to contend with. Difficult enough for a regular musical theatre actor but imagine what it is like after a few sherbets.

Overall then I thoroughly enjoyed Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and couldn’t help imagining what it would have been like if Dorothy had been the inebriated one – I bet “Somewhere over the Rainbow” would have been amazing. As it is, the music is really good with tracks from the original film, The Wiz and Wicked and all told, Sh*t-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a rip-roaring, totally irreverent sixty minutes of fun that maybe won’t please musical theatre purists but definitely kept me thoroughly entertained.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Shit-faced Shakespeare’s sibling Shit-faced Showtime joins them at the Leicester Square Theatre for an exclusive four dates in July. Ease on down the road and come with us to the Emerald city – don’t forget your Ruby Slippers! Packed full of tunes from The Wiz, Wicked and of course the Wizard of Oz itself, this year’s Shit-faced Showtime is bound to defy gravity.

‘Shit-faced Showtime’ is the all-singing, all-dancing, all-drinking phenomenon from the professional piss-heads behind Shit-faced Shakespeare. Featuring a cast of professionally trained musical theatre performers, classic show tunes, complex choreography and one entirely shit-faced actor every night … What could possibly go right?

So how does it work? Well each performance has a cast of actors, who all arrive 4 hours before the start of the show for a ‘party’ – however this party is dry for all but one performer, who gets Shit-faced. The rest is a balancing act between the songs as they appear in the sheet music and the improv rules, which state you must go with WHATEVER the drunk actor decides to do. “Yes, and…” rather than “No, but…”. Every single show is a one-off. Every single performance has a different drunk actor. Every single time they are genuinely inebriated.

Company Information
Directed by Tamsyn Kelly
Choreographed by Meg Matthews
Produced by Dora Rubinstein and Issy Wroe Wright
Cast
Ebony Buckle, Victoria Currie, Nick House, Alan McHale, Dora Rubinstein, Tom Tilley and Issy Wroe Wright
*Six performers on stage on any night, in rotation

Listings information
2 – 23 July 2017
Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX

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