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Theatre Review: The Wizard of Oz

12 December 17 words: Kevin Stanley

Odd socks and ruby slippers...

This is my second time watching and reviewing Oddsocks - my first was a few months ago watching them perform Macbeth. And it’s a delight to see them again. Even better at such a wonderful venue as Thorsby Riding Hall, near Ollerton, Nottinghamshire.

You may have seen The Wizard of Oz before but you’ve not seen a version quite like this. This production boasts all newly written original, catchy and amusing, songs - a trademark of Oddsocks’ productions. The actors even play their own musical instruments - guitar, bass, keyboard and drums - live on stage. It’s a multi talented cast. The Oddsocks players apparently change between productions - no doubt due to other commitments most likely with other acting troops. It’s interesting to see new faces.

Dorothy is transported to the land of Oz by a tornado, accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the West, and is instantly hailed a hero. But the young girl obviously wants to return home and so has to journey to the Emerald City to meet a powerful wizard. Along the way she is joined by other characters also in need of help from the Great Oz. Will the Scarecrow be granted the gift of intelligence? Will the Lion no longer be a scaredy-cat? Will the Tin woodsman get a heart? And will Dorothy get back to Kansas?

The five cast members all perform brilliantly - they’re fun and game for a laugh. There are elements of theatre, musical, pantomime and audience interaction, making it fun for kids as well as adults. Their costumes are colourful and well designed and they all seem to be adept at Kansas accents, which you might not expect them to use, but which give the performance a little more authenticity and so are welcome. Something that really marks Oddsocks out as special is their willingness, and indeed, eagerness, to interact with the audience members of all ages (asking them some daft, some serious questions) especially children, talking to them about their school or their own school plays. It’s this sort of interaction that helps to encourage children into acting themselves. The most interesting cast member was (the unseen 6th member) Tom Hanks (as Forest Gump) who provided the voice of Toto the dog! At least I think that’s who it was!

The set is colourful and interchangeable between scenes and if on occasion it goes awry, or bits fall off the scenery, it only adds to the humour, proving that they’re only human and accessible. One element of costume that seems to have been overlooked and replaced with silver shoes were Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I’m not sure of the story behind that costume change/malfunction.

Oddsocks theatre company are lively and exciting performers who put their heart and soul into their productions. If you go to one of their performances you’re set up for an evening of enjoyable entertainment.

The Wizard of Oz was at Thorseby Riding Hall on 8 December 2017.

Oddsocks website