Review: Wicked - a lavish return to Oz

Wicked - a huge hit at the Playhouse
Wicked - a huge hit at the Playhouse

Wicked: Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh

The restaurants around the Playhouse are mobbed pre-show, and the theatre is pretty much packed out. Excellent business for a Tuesday night - and an indication of the pulling power of ‘Wicked’ this year’s big must-see show.

It’s spectacular, lavish, dazzling and thoroughly entertaining - and, at the prices being charged per seat, that’s just as well. This ain’t no cheap night out!

Wicked picks up where ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ left off.

Elphaba the witch may be dead - ding dong and all that - but what was her story?

And was she maybe really just a tad misunderstood?

It starts with her death and then rewinds to her childhood as told by the good witch Garlinda.

Their paths cross at a university which resembles Hogwarts more than it does Heriot Watt - the tutors are talking animals until struck dumb in a nasty plot by the wizard of Oz - and they became enemies and then BFFs.

Chuck in a handsome prince who dates one but pines for the other and, well, you got the basis of a superb night of entertainment.

It could easily be a panto - indeed there are times you feel you are just a few steps away from an ‘‘oh no she isn’t!’’ - but it never crosses that divide into slapstick and daftness, opting instead for some great set pieces, complete with flying monkeys, some smart humour, and two outstanding female leads in Emily Tierney and Ashley Gray who leave you wondering just who was the goodie and who was the bad ‘un.

There are some wonderful nods to the original yellow brick road first travelled by Dorothy back in the 1930, and a brilliant musical score which will be lodged in your brain for days afterwards.

As the curtain fell, the audience rose in applause in appreciation of a show that is actually worth every penny of the admission ticket.

Must confess, I loved it too ...

>> Wicked is at the Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh, until January 10