A couple of memorable songs, dry ice, costume changes and monkeys with wings - but no substance
This article is from 2014.
It’s not easy, as Kermit famously reminded us, being green. In Wicked, the musical-by-numbers prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Elphaba is born the colour of a frozen pea and has that and many more disadvantages thrown in her path. Her roomie, Glinda, is the blondest, ditziest, most popular girl ever to be born with a silver spoon in her mouth. This superhit Broadway show is the story of how these two grew up to be the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North.
The show is touted heavily as a morality play, asking big questions about unintended consequences and ends justifying means. The cast sing about this with great gusto. Belting out a chorus is is not, however, exploring the issues and while there is endless scope to look at the disadvantages of having an unconventional skin tone, the rights and wrongs of depriving animals of their voices and keeping them in cages, sibling rivalry and just how vile teenagers can be, Wicked passes every time.
Nikki Davis-Jones, as Elphaba, gives good green and is by far the most sympathetic character on the stage. She dances even when there is no music playing, is fiercely protective of her disabled sister and is a nascent animal rights activist. What’s wicked about that? Emily Tierney as Glinda, however, is a saccharine pantomime moppet with the volume setting stuck at high.
A couple of memorable songs, dry ice, costume changes and monkeys with wings are not enough to give this show substance it wants to deliver. Shame.
King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 31 May.