The Wizard of Oz (4 stars)

The Wizard of Oz

The Pitch If we aren’t in Kansas, Toto, Edinburgh makes for a pretty convincing substitute. Dorothy (Denise Hoey) moves from twister to twisted into the surreal world of Oz, where that absolute shoeligan the Wicked Witch of the West (Julie Austin) is after her ruby slippers and vengeance for her sister, who’s been left housesitting, with the house doing the sitting. Can the Scarecrow (Matthew Pidgeon), Tinman (Sandy Grierson) and Cowardly Lion (Graham Kent) help her back to Kansas? Duh!

The verdict Gill Robertson’s production makes some pleasing, worldly wise winks at the audience on the way through this charming rendering of the oft-told tale, taking more from the movie than L Frank Baum’s book. In it, Dorothy’s rite of passage through a seemingly cruelly random world and her discovery of the value of friends and family is interspersed with observations that seem as crisp today as ever. Through all this, there are some splendidly theatrical turns, with Toto’s entrances and exits bringing comic highlights all of their own. There are also some tremendous performances, with Pidgeon and Grierson outstanding in their realisation of character and movement. Hoey’s Dorothy is equally strong, while Estrid Barton’s careworn Aunt and Good Witch is brilliantly observed. Highly recommended. (Steve Cramer)
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 30 Dec

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