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REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz, Tread the Boards at The Attic Theatre

ANY production at The Attic Theatre should be considered a roaring success simply by virtue of the constraints that the cast have to work to in this, well, intimate space.

Already this year, Tread the Boards have presented Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Richard III. Coming soon are Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Sweeney Todd, and Aladdin.

They are all classics and, you might say, standard fodder for any theatre company — but Tread the Boards is no ordinary theatre company, nor is its home, in the roof space of the historic Cox’s Yard in Stratford, an ordinary theatre.

The stage measures only slightly bigger than the living room in my fairly modest three-bedroom house, and the budget for props seemed to have been set at ‘as little as we can get away with’.

But it all adds to the charm of TTB’s family shows — and The Wizard of Oz was every bit as good as my previous, and first, visit to The Attic this time last year to see their Alice in Wonderland.

We all know the story of Oz, which was written as a children’s book by L Frank Baum in 1900, very well.

And Tread the Boards’ take was as creative as ever, with a cast of just seven, many of whom are Attic regulars, leading the audience on an at times raucous and highly amusing journey of discovery along the Yellow Brick Road, from Kansas to the Emerald City.

Matilda Bott shone in the spotlight of the lead role, while maintaining the innocence of Dorothy’s tender years and the unusual situations she finds herself in.

Robert Moore’s Tin Man was awkwardly amusing given the restrictive armour he was cast in; James Tanton was very funny as the shouty but very Cowardly Lion; TTB’s artistic director and Oz director, John-Robert Partridge, was at his slapstick best as Scarecrow; Alexandra Whitworth’s Wicked Witch was suitably, but not too, scary; Ashleigh Dickinson was the friendly face and comforting influence as The Glinda the Good Witch; and Daniel Arbon’s was Del Boy-esque as the awe-inspiring Wizard.

Go see, you will be inspired to believe in yourself, and be suitably entertained at the same time, proving there really is no place like ‘home’, or to be more specific, The Attic!

The Wizard of Oz runs until 27th August, with Jane Eyre, adapted by Catherine Prout, opening for a two-and-a-half week run on 6th September.

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