REVIEW: WITCHES OF OZ (Vaults)

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most beloved films of all time. First released in 1939, this Judy Garland classic is a family favourite even still today. Wicked the Musical, first brought to the London stage in 2006 (which gives the backstory to the original film) is still going strong and has just celebrated sixteen years in the West End. So, a queer, cabaret, immersive dining experience at The Vaults called ‘Witches of Oz’ was a no-brainer (said the scarecrow) to go and see and I went along hoping this might be the newest incarnation of the story to become the hot ticket in London.

We sit in a bar, nicely decorated as the Wonderful World of Oz. The audience feasts on its appetizer – a Broccololipop (basically a piece of broccoli on a stick, covered in a spicy sauce and actually quite delicious) whilst we are introduced to the three-hour evening we are about to experience. This is all nice enough, meeting Kelly OzBorn gets a few laughs but this is about the height of the comedy for the night and was mostly eye-rolling from then on.

Once inside the dining room (think Hogwarts) the starter is served (Yellow Brick Rocky Road – a strange combination of corn bread and puréed sweetcorn) which is … interesting but not wholly unpleasant. Then the show really kicks off. Played on two stages, opposite one another at the end of a long dining table, the show is a very current take on the modern story.

It’s been years since Dorothy was last in the emerald city but now the Blizard of Oz has blown a now non binary Doro-they, back into town. She meets up with all of the old gang. Tin (who has dropped the ‘man’ part from their name), Scarecrow (now a scientist) and Lion (a Dominatrix) for an evening of gender exploration whilst hunting down the Wicked Witch and trying to find some new slippers so that Dorothey can make it home. The Good Witch is running for power and needs everyone’s votes to stop the Blizard of Oz from freezing everyone in a climate emergency. Sadly the political message of the show is lost with bad jokes, bizarre performances and the most basic choreography.

The main course is a highlight of the show. Glazed crown of chicken or spiced cinnamon pumpkin with colourful root vegetables, seasonal vegetables and beetroot salad. That was very much enjoyed. Desert was a candied apple pie.

The production photos on the website have beautiful makeup on the actors that gives the cast of Cats a run for their money. Unfortunately, in person, the look was quite different – more like drive-by clowning! This sums the night up for me and sadly didn’t live up to my expectations.

★★

Reviewed by West End Wilma