Tiger Dublin Fringefest Review: The Wickedness of Oz


Photo credit: Clíona Ní Laoi.

The Wickedness of Oz

Part of Tiger Dublin Fringefest

Bewley’s Café Theatre, The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2

September 17, 21, 23 @ 6pm, September 14 @ 8pm, September 18 @ 1pm

Tickets €10-13

The Show in A Bag Offerings have become one of the most popular elements of the Fringefest in recent years, and have spawned numerous hit shows that went on enjoy to huge success around the world. This offering is written and performed by popular actress Kate Gilmore, who won the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress for Breathless last year.

The name of the show, and its posters may imply that it is some sort of 60-minute love song to classic movie, The Wizard of Oz. However, WoZ and its star, Judy Garland, get only minimal mentions. In fact, the Oz of the title refers more so to Australia – a country that Gilmore’s travel agent character, Debbie, references frequently. Waking up with the hangover from hell, she takes us through her day, as she reflects on the highs and lows of her life, all the while waiting for her boyfriend, Anto, to make up for the previous night’s fight.

In between regaling us with the stories of her adventures and mishaps, she breaks into songs appropriate to the situation. These aren’t random tracks, but rather well-known classic musical numbers, which she performs with gusto, before reverting back to the hungover and regretful Debbie. Underlying all her misadventures is a family tragedy, that has shaped much of her behaviour, and as the story progresses and she peels away the layers, we discover that Debbie’s bravado disguises a lot of issues which have affected her deeply.

The requirements of this show are – as the name of the initiative implies – that the whole thing could fit into a suitcase or bag for touring purposes, and indeed, looking at the relatively sparse stage, featuring some sparkly red shoes with disembodied legs in striped stockings sticking out of the them, and a trolly with one or two other props, this does seem to be a very portable offering.

Despite the sparsity of the stage, this feels like a very big show, thanks in no small part to the blustering soundtrack and the energy displayed by Gilmore. She may be small in stature, but she is a dynamo as Debbie, utilising the whole space as she wanders around the audience interacting with them. The story builds nicely, and has a nice balance of humour and pathos. There are no dips, and the hour-long running time seems to whiz by faster than one of the flights Debbie books for her clients.

There are one or two moments where she doesn’t quite fully pull off morphing into another character, and also the moving from stage to the audience means that sometimes (depending on where you sit) you miss some of the subtleties and nuances of the performance. However, these are minor grumbles in what is a very enjoyable offering.

If you are not a fan of The Wizard of Oz, don’t let that put you off going to see this. Far more than just a movie fan’s homage to the musical, this is a sometimes dark, sometimes deep, but always humorous look at love, life, and family tragedy.

Bewley’s Café Theatre, The Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2

September 17, 21, 23 @ 6pm, September 14 @ 8pm, September 18 @ 1pm

Tickets €10-13



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