top of page

The Wizard of Aus - UWA Pantomime Society (Fringe World 2024)

Updated: Jan 22

Reviewed by Jack Bengough


UWA Pantomime Society’s The Wizard of Aus presents us with a retelling of the classic story in a contemporary Australian context. The production is an hour of good fun for teens and up looking for a Fringe World show to check out in Fremantle.

The production opens with Dorothy (Sarah-Beth Aldridge) seated on an aeroplane, flying from England to Australia, when the plane’s captain comes on the speaker, to momentarily break the fourth wall to encourage the audience to heckle the actors throughout the show (save for the musical numbers). This open invitation to heckle is a calculated risk that every pantomime must take; whether you’re on stage or in the audience, you sign up for a show that is going to be somewhat unpredictable and occasionally a little messy. During this showing, the audience was lively and more than happy to interact with the performers, although some did get a little carried away, leading to a couple of cringe-worthy moments. Throughout, the performers were highly capable of responding and going along with the audience's heckles, without losing their place in their own story.

Shortly after this introduction, Dorothy sings to the audience Somewhere Over the Wheatbelt, the plane crashes, and she then finds herself in the Wonderful World of Aus. She soon begins her quest to find The Wizard (Oisin Colley) with her newfound pet Quokka Toto (Ethan Dal Molin). This introduction leads the audience to believe this panto will be packed with musical numbers, parodying songs from the film, but this is not the case as a profound musical hater, Nathan the Tradie (Aaron Hamilton), stomps in to disrupt nearly all future musical numbers. On one hand, this is disappointing, as the opening parody was a delight, but on the other hand, Hamilton’s grumpy and occasionally violent performance is one of the highlights of the show.

From here, Dorothy encounters The Farmer (Liam McKay), The Tinny Man (Dani Grills), The Koala (Lucy Pearce), the Wicked Witch of the West Coast Eagles (Clare Boon), and many other Aussie spins on characters from the original story. The actors are all delightfully heightened, silly and over the top in their performances and they constantly deliver cultural in-jokes that any Aussie can laugh along with. The production showcases the skills of the individual actors superbly: there’s singing, dancing, puppeteering, and a whole lot of well-crafted comedic performances to be found here.

Set design from Sarah-Beth Aldridge and Elizabeth Hamilton does a lot with very little and the audience is always given a clear sense of place and atmospheric scenery. Alistair Langton’s lighting design works in perfect tandem with the set, complementing their choices and also providing heightened moments for the performers with spots and lively colours where necessary. Clare Boon’s costuming brings all these characters to life.

You can catch The Wizard of Aus at DADAA behind Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle until January 23rd.

Promotional Image, provided by company.

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.



bottom of page