Witches cast light on Trump’s America
Scene & Heard is late to review this as it opened while we were at the Galway festival; it is now up and running and well into its groove with terrific production values, fabulous costumes and flying monkeys.
Last Tuesday, it played to a packed house which featured a lot of teenage girls, but also included the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. And this savvy musical knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between two girls at a sorcery university — the blonde who likes to be popular, and the socially awkward girl with green skin whom nobody likes.
The musical by Stephen Schwartz (music and lyrics) and Winnie Holzman (book) tells the backstory of the two witches from The Wizard of Oz. The story is now best known from the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, but the original novel by L Frank Baum from 1900 was hugely popular.
No art form interrogates the idea of America as assiduously as the Broadway musical, and Wicked does so with broomsticks. Though first produced in 2003, it identifies many of the issues troubling present-day Trump’s America. Elphaba (beautifully sung by Amy Ross) is concerned with how society is being run. She has minority coloured skin (in this case green) and a highly developed sense of fair play. She wants to protect the vulnerable, in this case animals who have been trapped in cages in order to prevent them from speaking. A typical social justice warrior.
ROMAN FEVER Bewley’s Café Theatre Aug 6 – Sept 8
The late Hugh Leonard adapted this Edith Wharton story. It features Karen Ardiff and Maria Tecce as two American widows in 1930s Italy watching the sun set on the Colosseum. Directed by Michael James Ford.