Review by Tatum Stafford
The Real Housewives, a giant disco ball and the tale of Oscar Wilde – three things that might not naturally fit together in your mind, but work wonderfully in the new immersive musical OSCAR at The Crown this Fringe season.
Presented by Neon Coven with music by Andrew BarrettCox (of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame), this unique performance is set in a dystopian future where all things glitter and queer have been banished to an undisclosed location, where Fringe audiences are invited in to dance and celebrate joy together.
Throughout the hour, we are introduced to Oscar Wilde (Mark Mauriello), and a troupe of his supporters and friends, made up of Vicki (Melissa McCabe), Ramona (Yeonyeon Jung), Sonja (Letitia Hector), Erika (Billie Kerr), Exile (Eloise Simpson) and Exile (Kim Hudman). This ensemble worked terrifically together, and nailed the show’s repertoire of complex harmonies and scenes with plenty of context about Oscar.
The cast was rounded out by one of Oscar’s lovers, Bosie (Jamie Cruttenden), who was charismatic and charming, and Constance (Elizabeth Chalmers), who had the house in awe with her final number and powerful voice.
Though I’ve never seen The OC, the number dedicated to one of its leading characters, Julie Cooper, had everyone in stitches and was my favourite in the show. This show knows how to embrace its silly side, and it was clear the cast were having a blast performing every number, which is always a joy to see.
With thumping club beats, gorgeous costumes, ambitious staging and staggeringly high vocals, this show is an absolute feast for the senses. The immersive aspects, on the whole, work well, with actors weaving through audience members, sometimes standing on mini-stages. On the night I attended there were unfortunately a few mic issues for Mark Mauriello, but these were resolved quickly.
The only points in which it became difficult to follow the plot were when cast members were speaking or singing amongst the audience, not on platforms, as it became tricky to tell who was speaking and where to cast your attention. But otherwise, the immersive aspects were well choreographed, and it all looked gorgeous in the spiegeltent venue.
The show truly is a party, and Neon Coven have nailed the details – as you enter, there are signs instructing you to ‘go live, go Wilde’, and a pre-show playlist with Lady Gaga and The Spice Girls blaring helps to set the mood and get people dancing. Though I stood the whole show to soak up the immersive aspects, the traditional spiegeltent seating around the sides remained, and made the show accessible to whoever wanted to attend.
If you’re looking for a late-night delight this Fringe, give OSCAR a go. The show is a beautiful celebration of queerness, pop culture, and the glitzy side of literature.