Reviewer: Sophie Huggins
With such a title as Shit-Faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it becomes apparent that the show will consist of a drunk participant attempting to carry out a musical along with the rest of a classically trained ensemble. Presented by Magnificent Bastard Productions, this title sets up the expectation and anticipation of an entertaining, silly and messy evening.
Guided by energetic facilitator and crowd warmer, in sequins and glittered leggings, the audience is let in on the alcohol levels that the unlucky participant has consumed. Various audience members are given oddball instruments to make noise when they sense a sobering in the performer and another drink will be served. The story is the simple Wizard of Oz, told in and around a cardboard cut-out of a dilapidated house, complete with ramshackle props all entirely reminiscent of a nativity play in which schoolchildren have been left unsupervised to raid the dressing up box. There is even a pathetic hand puppet of Toto, who is often left behind in all of the madness and suddenly remembered, While being on the zany path of the yellow brick road.
Throughout it is clear that this is a caricature telling of a classic tale and there are some amusing moments in which booze gets the better of the actress. She is up to no good and the comedy works as the audience are in on the act; an inventive dramatic irony that makes a typical story more enjoyable. However, the audience participation feels slightly confused as although the audience is given influence on the action through the instruments, the convention is then contradicted when the room is chastised by the host for demanding the participant to “down it.” If a relaxed, broken fourth wall atmosphere is set up and the audience are given power in the action, this has to be sustained throughout as it is jarring to hear the crowd being told off for treating the play “like a Sussex university party” – when getting a performer drunk, isn’t that really what it is?
Working with a classic tale is successful as it is familiar, recognisable and easy to mock. But this is also a downside as when the drunk isn’t amusing, it is just a boring telling of a musical with annoying exaggerated characters albeit with marginally interesting elements of a drag act and live music. It gets interesting when the action strays from the storyline, such as Scarecrow and Tinman sharing a hilariously romantic moment. But, for the rest of the ensemble to remain in the story and improvise around the mishaps is commendable although the tin man is pulled into the giggling ways of the drunk.
In truth, the show falls flat at times as it does hang on a singular premise of doing what it says on the tin – a show with a drunk performer and feels anticlimactic by the final scenes. But it is full of irresponsible fun and, never being the same show twice, is guaranteed to provide a unique experience inspiring many hysterical laughs.
Reviewed on 26 May 2017
www.brightonfringe.org | @brightonfringe
The Reviews Hub is proud to sponsor the Literature & Spoken Work section of Brighton Fringe 2017 as well as being an official Reviews Partner, offering in-depth coverage of the festival.