Sunday, August 10, 2008

David Hoyle in Oz

As a discerning London culture-vulture you will have noticed The Wizard of Oz, the musical, is showing at the Festival Hall; it's had some decidely lukewarm reviews, despite housing the delectable Adam Cooper who I once met backstage at the Piccadilly Theatre wearing only his underpants (God, that Swan Lake was brilliant: I saw it six times, including it's opening in LA).

There is however an alternative Oz on Friday nights; a cabaret treat for the grown-ups after the main event. Last week's turn was a collaboration between David Hoyle and Nathan Evans: 'We're Not in Kansas Anymore'. It was a new production created specially and Dickie Beau was superb as a slightly sinister Dorothy complete with stuffed Toto. It also starred Fred Bear from Bearlesque, Thom Shaw and Fancy Chance. David was the Wizard, at first looming large and green as a projection on a makeshift screen before taking to the stage in full top-hat and satin tails in a blast of bombast and confrontation.

It was a riotous show, and not for the kids. Needless to say the Wizard of Oz story got lost but there were a good many of those nihilistic diatribes we all love, and much throwing of shapes, nudity and artful posturing. Much use of the word 'Cunt' too, generally by David hectoring audience members who dared to talk during his act. In such moments he's utterly poisonous but completely hilarious. The costumes were great: my favourite was the psychedelic body-suit David wore with a green face and hands and his hair full of what looked like dead-birds. He looked like an insane 1970's housewife on drugs who had been dragged through a hedge. The evening climaxed with body painting session with the cast orgiastically rolling around on a massive canvas before the power was cut and David lead a mass exodus with a loudhailer (cast AND audience), outside to the South Bank where the performance petered out in the South Bank fountains. It was as strange as it sounds. A bit like being off your face at a love-in hosted by the Brixton Fairies and mugged at the same time.

The show was even more brilliant for being in the polite confines of the Festival Hall ballroom. There must have been people who had popped along for a free truncated Wizard of Oz only to find themselves in the midst of some very queer proceedings. We had a few walk-outs near us... Horrah! Needless to say David lives to challenge middling world-views and long may he procrastinate.

Foto nicked from Joe Pop's facebook.
Also see David Hoyle chronicler A.M. Hanson's blog