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‘The Witches of Oz’ review

  • Theatre, Immersive
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Witches of Oz, The Vaults, 2022
Photo by The Vaults

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Oz is transformed into a Technicolor queer utopia in this rambunctious new slice of dinner theatre at the Vaults

Before Gaga, before Princess Diana, before Kylie, before Barbra… there was Judy. The 1939 musical fantasy film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is more central to queer culture than ‘Drag Race’ will ever be. But beloved by ‘friends of Dorothy’ as the MGM classic is, perhaps 2022 calls for a retelling; one where the Lion is into BDSM, Dorothy is non-binary and the Wicked Witch whips out a banging rendition of ‘Rolling in the Deep’.

‘The Witches of Oz’ is the second show at The Vaults written and directed by London artist ShayShay. It comes right off the back of their hugely successful ‘Mulan Rouge’: a riotously funny queer mashup of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ and Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’. 

‘Mulan Rouge’ fizzed with originality. ShayShay’s choice to give the Disney film the treatment its LGBTQ+ fans didn’t even know they wanted – bringing the film’s trans and bisexual subtext to the fore – felt genuinely important. ‘The Witches of Oz’ is no less fun and inclusive – even if it’s not as revelatory. 

The key is not to think too hard about the plot: it’s really all about the one-liners. The funniest moment (at least for me) appears in the first scene, when the Wicked Witch (Fèyi Wey) introduces herself as ‘the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem’ – a reference to a gem of the queer canon that thankfully took away the taste of the ‘broccolollipop’ I’d just eaten. (It is what it sounds like, and don’t worry, the food improves somewhat from here). ShayShay’s writing sings with pun-tastic campness and the actors don’t miss a beat: Lily Downes is relentlessly charming as Doro-they, and Fizz Sinclair as ‘Tin’ serves offbeat comedy that’s as strong as their sleek chrome ‘fit. 

Having sold their ruby slippers on eBay a few years ago, Doro-they (‘or “Dor” for short’) has no idea how they’re going to make it back to Kansas. A blizzard has brought them back to Oz, derailing the Wonderful Feast of Oz, at which we’ve all been tasked with voting in the next Witch of Oz.

If you’re not following, then fear not: there’s more than enough glamour, high panto energy and big-hearted musical performances to get you through to dessert: Grace Kelly Miller as The (not-so) Good Witch is endlessly watchable (follow her advice and don’t talk while she’s singing!). It’s not all fluff: there are well-intentioned nods to climate change and anti-capitalism, which ultimately feel out of place in their earnestness. 

Really, ‘The Witches of Oz’ is best enjoyed as a chaotically fun, joyfully queer night out, and needs to be celebrated for being so trans-inclusive and diverse. Bring your mates, don your best emerald garms and order yourself a ‘Tin’s Knees’ cocktail: here, everyone’s over the rainbow.  

Rose Johnstone
Written by
Rose Johnstone


£20-£35, £45-£59 with meal. Runs 3hr
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