The Broadway musical ‘Wicked’, by Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz, has been received with great enthusiasm from critics and audience members alike. As a huge fan of the theatre, I expected to enjoy it similarly.
Sure enough, it held all the drama and magnificence of any extravagant theatre musical. The opening scenes held crowds of performers singing and dancing, gliding across the stage in glittering costumes, each one decorated with unique, complex patterns. They completed the routines effortlessly, so well-rehearsed they seemed to be in another world, their feet barely touching the ground.
The play follows the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked, from the moment she was born with green skin, to her death at the hands of Dorothy. It tells a tale of an outcast forming a strong friendship with the most popular girl at school, (Glinda the Good), and how certain events in the future could break that down.
From the first Act, the performance seemed to be living up to the hype. That was when it all became a bit too much.
The singing turned into screaming, there was too much confusion woven into an incredibly intricate plot, and by the end I was left wondering whether the Witch was wicked or not. On one hand, she was presented as doing the right thing as an animal rights activist, but then she declared herself wicked and was widely hated by everyone in Oz.
I was also confused on where Glinda the Good stood; while she told the story in flashback she seemed reluctant to admit she had been friends with the Wicked Witch, but the conclusion of the play contradicted this.
There were several plot-holes and unexplained jumps that we weren’t supposed to notice, and it was very difficult to understand what the cast was singing, but despite this I enjoyed the performance.
It was clear that a lot of effort went into making everything work, the sound and lighting, set design, costumes and rehearsing. The reviews are deserved, though I was slightly sceptical about the standing ovation from half the crowd.
A film adaptation will be released in 2019, which will hopefully solve these issues as the sound quality will be better and the plot probably less complex.
‘Wicked’ will be available to watch in the Palace Theatre, Manchester this December.