Culture Theatre

Review | Wicked

by Andrea Gaini


Speechless, amazed, astonished, shocked, stunned – in a word: Wicked.

I’ve seen enough musicals to fill my room of colourful programmes, but somehow, I’ve always managed to miss Wicked. Once, it was because of a cancelled show, then a flight, and so it started to seem as if a spell had been cast upon me.

Last night, despite Elphaba saying that a spell cannot be undone, the curse was finally lifted and Wicked struck into my life. From start to finish I laid on the soft chair of the Donald Gordon Theatre, mouth wide-open, trying to assume as many emotions as possible from a way-too-short dream.

The plot displays the work of an incredibly imaginative mind. Under the colourful gowns of the show lay many themes that have shaped, and still shape, human history. Doctor Dillamond’s expulsion from class, for instance, ran chills all over my body when the memory of the Jewish deportation and the horrors of the holocaust flashed in my mind. Subtly, but powerfully, Wicked strikes one by one many of the flaws in our society. Monkeys are turned into slaves, and suddenly my thought shifts to the amazon forest and the recent threats of increasing deforestation.

Wicked plays a role of educator more than entertainer in many cases, but the fun part does not lack either. Schwartz’s music is able to fuse feelings of urgency, danger and power in such a perfect way that at many points throughout the show the stage comes into the audience to call us to action, always welcomed by a rounding, fat, applause.

The singers complemented each other even when their voices seem to be coming from all genres. Elphaba (Amy Ross)’s powerful yet pure voice showed stunning malleability and an endless range. “Defying Gravity”, always the real deal-breaker in this show, wrecked the fourth wall to deliver an unimaginable spectacle.

Very honourable mention must be given to the beautiful Glinda (Charli Baptie), who’s lyrical vibrato and buzzing head voice reminded us all what an invaluable treasure opera training can be.

The cast moved, sang and danced surrounded by a real world, which just happens to be touring around the UK, that’s how good the scenography was. From one scene to another there was a lovely consistency of balance between elements; the costumes, props and set were mixed together to create an environment that cannot be forgotten.

Going to the theatre has never been so fulfilling and being able to find this incredible show in Cardiff is simply a privilege no one should let go to waste. So, grab your fancy coats; head down to the Bay and let yourself be transported into the world of Oz.