Oscar Wilde, pop culture obsessives, and post-apocalyptic underground societies are the main ingredients for new immersive musical Oscar at The Crown from creator Mark Mauriello. Taking place at the Assembly’s Palais du Variete, the venue is transformed into a futuristic underground night club complete with a pounding electronic dancepop soundtrack and a cast of energetic performers.
Fascism has taken hold of society and a band of outsiders seek to live life to the fullest in an underground bunker. Worshipping pop culture from The OC’s villainess Julie Cooper to The Real Housewives franchises, the group re-enact the story of Oscar Wilde from his rise to fame, his marriage to Constance Lloyd, his infatuated love affair with Bosie Douglas, and his imprisonment/public shaming – all explored in an immersive nightclub setting with high energy original pop music.
The standing audience are encouraged to centre themselves around the action in the Palais du Variete tent, which is filled with large movable crates and the catwalk style stage. Performers dance around and interact before the show starts, with activity going on in each pocket of the theatre. Once the audience are assembled, the Shira Milikowsky directed production kicks off with Amethyst and Diamonds, a slinky electronic banger from the show’s composer Andrew Barret Cox. The cast deliver with incredible gusto with ambitious choreography accompanying each musical number. Standing atop of crates, strutting and voguing fill the venue with the audience encouraged to film and document the experience.
Crates are wheeled around the stage, whilst light poles are brought out for further musical numbers. Silhouetted performers dance behind plastic strips, with the venue assembling a post-apocalyptic warehouse. They game cast fully utilise the whole space of the venue, audience members almost becoming props for them to dance around. Oscar at The Crown is lavish, magnetically chaotic, and vibrant. The celebration of pop culture comes in the form of a number dedicated to The OC character Julie, whilst quotes from The Real Housewives are littered throughout the dialogue such as Dorinda Medley’s “I made it nice” or references to Teresa Giudice’s infamous table flip. Yet the overriding story is that of Oscar Wilde, with the underground society celebrating his desire to life hedonistically and flamboyantly.
Given the full-on immersive style of the show, if unfamiliar with Wilde’s story, this may not be the clearest way to come to grips with it. With such physical spectacle and immersion, the annunciation of some of the song’s lyrics can also feel lost and it can be a challenge to identify how the narrative of the song links with that of the story of Wilde or the post-apocalyptic society. This can result in the plotting feeling a little chaotic and messy, relying on the dialogue between high energy performances to fill in the gaps.
In its exploration of Constance Lloyd, Oscar at The Crown and its final moments present the destructive nature of Wilde’s excesses, whilst the sole ballad Glimmer of Light aims to pay tribute to Lloyd’s achievements in her own right. The number doubles as an anthem of hope in the characters returning to overground society.
As Wilde famously stated “I can resist anything except temptation” and Oscar at The Crown is a celebration of such temptations and excesses. The hedonistic immersive night life setting, ferocious performances, and scintillating pop soundtrack ensure that Oscar at The Crown is a sinfully delicious affair.
OSCAR at The Crown runs until August 27th. Get tickets here.