Theatre: Birmingham Hippodrome
Date: 21st April 2018
There is so much to love about Wicked. The staging is fantastic, the performances outstanding and the music is mesmerising. Amy Ross’s rendition of Defying Gravity at the end of the first act is worth the cost of the ticket for that alone and was simply sublime.
However, there is something about Wicked that sadly doesn’t sit right with me and (in my opinion) unfortunately spoiled what was otherwise an amazing show. And that something is the appalling portrayal of disability throughout the show that left me feeling deflated as I exited the theatre with my 26 year old daughter, who is a full time wheelchair user and has had many, many happy days in her life, something apparently impossible if you have a disability according to the show.
For a show that gets so much right, Wicked sadly lets itself down with its archaic and stereotypical view of disability. I won’t go into too much detail here as I don’t want to risk spoiling the show for those who haven’t seen it, but it took me completely by surprise and disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover how it left me feeling.
For the majority of people Wicked will deliver exactly what they want from a musical: outstanding performances, funny and sometimes moving dialogue, with mesmerising musical numbers that will delight both young and old alike. They won’t even notice what stood out like a sore thumb to me, which is sadly indicative of how far our society as a whole still has to go.
But even after saying all that, putting my own misgivings to one side for a moment, there was still so much to enjoy about Wicked that I can’t help but still recommend it to everyone who loves a good musical. And as I said at the beginning of this review, Defying Gravity as performed by Amy Ross at the end of the first act, is the standout musical number of the show. Simply mesmerising!
Edited to clarify:
This review is my own personal opinion only. I don’t need to have the show explained to me, I’m perfectly capable of understanding it on my own. The portrayal of Nessarose is problematic to me on many levels, not least of which is the fact that she isn’t given the same chance of redemption that other characters are. She is seen as expendable. And as the only character in the show with a disability, therein lies the problem.