Review: OSCAR at The Crown

The disco-rock musical set in an alternate future is hit and miss

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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OSCAR at The Crown | Image courtesy of Assembly Festival
Published 25 Aug 2023

Palais du Variete on George Square Gardens is a late 1800s style, vaudeville style circus tent that becomes packed with young revellers who film the fantastical surroundings on their phones. No venue could suit Oscar at The Crown better, a disco-rock musical set in an alternate future where outsiders live underground, obsessed with reality television and putting on a production of a musical about self-proclaimed outside Oscar Wilde.

If that sounds like a lot, it really is. The cast (who are part of the London and New York collective Neon Coven) high kick, riff and point their way through the hour, all atop moving cubes that are whizzed through the audience. Oscar is played by Mark Mauriello, who attacks the role with a queer gothic punch.

The Oscar Wilde musical never really moves beyond a paint-by-numbers biography of the Irishman but a stellar performance of Constance Lloyd, Wilde’s wife, by Elizabeth Chalmers serves as the stand-out performance of the night as she questions the public reverence her husband demands.

The songs never move beyond the generic sappy metaphors of darkness before the dawn and the like but it is undeniable the cast really can sing. Though shoddy sound levels make it hard to hear what the cast are singing at points, it would be unfair to blame this on Neon Coven.

Less successful is the reality television part of the show. There is mention of it earlier on with a song dedicated to Julie Cooper from The OC but the cast's fandom of reality TV does not add anything to the narrative and is quietly forgotten in the third act. A threat of the above world breaking in also seems to get dropped. Plot holes aside, Oscar at The Crown serves as a fun night out with the cast really engaging with its surrounding audience to make sure everyone is having a great time.