Review “Wizard” by Dominic Berry The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone 1st May, 2012
“Wizard” is the first theatre show from Dominic Berry a Manchester-based performance poet. Let me start by declaring an interest in that I’ve met Dominic on the Poetry Slam circuit and we have expressed admiration for each other’s work. However it is a giant leap from poems performed in three minute segments to a 75 minute stage show that features heavy use of rhyme. So, can a poetry-based show engage an audience for an extended period? Well in my opinion, this show doesn’t just engage; it’s a triumph.
“Wizard” starts off as a story of a “normal” person encountering his strange neighbour locked out of his flat. Taking a chance to help him, they form an odd couple friendship where one does the regular 9 to 5 routine which starkly contrasts with Wizard’s world inhabited with talking kettles and magical quests. It is an indication of the strength of writing and performances that the use of rhyme enhances the story without being clunky. Ben Jewell offers an excellent foil in supporting roles that allows Dominic Berry’s central performance as the Wizard to fly.
What starts out as a tale with quirky charm takes a darker turn when you realise we are not in the realms of Harry Potter but in the world of anxiety-induced agoraphobia. The creation of a world of spells, carpet-goblins and keeping score in quest gaming style is a safe haven from a hectic, violent modern world and who’s to say that isn’t preferable sometimes? Poetry has often been used as part of the healing humanities and in “Wizard” a sensitive subject has been well researched and forms the backbone of a moving and sometimes unsettling story. Life is sometimes unsettling and these episodes are well acted and the feeble attempts at “care” by a stretched to breaking public service highlight the feeling of helplessness that many must feel.
Excellent lighting and sound effects thoughtfully support the changes in mood and tone to produce a great theatrical experience. This is a wonderful show with lots to commend it and it is currently on a limited tour. You should go and see it while you have the chance. Yes it is that good; in fact it’s wizard!