Lucy Egan went along to UON Muso’s recent production of ‘Twisted’ and found herself rooting for the villain- or is she?
I have been watching with amusement as the villain origin stories become more present in pop culture and literature. President Snow in Suzanne Collin’s new book, Maleficent, Cruella, The Joker and Tarkgaryen’s in the House of Dragons and in the more distant past, Wicked. I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to humanise the villain or provide a more sympathetic backstory to their evil plots and actions, or an attempt to show the complexity of the human condition, but I’ll spare you the English student musing.
Basically, when I heard the UON Musos were putting on a show called Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, I was sold. My fellow Yak, Phoebe, and I went along to their Friday night show in the second week.
Firstly, it was exciting to see that when we booked tickets, there were only two seats left sitting together in the whole theatre, so it was clear the show was very popular. I hadn’t been to a play, let alone a musical, since before Covid, so it was a lovely feeling to be back inside a theatre again and feel the anticipation of watching a show. The crowd filed in and before long, it was packed.
I must, here, admit my ignorance. I knew it was about Ja’far from Disney’s Aladdin. I knew he was a bad dude and interfered with Jasmine and Aladdin’s plans but beyond that, I don’t remember a lot more. Luckily, Phoebe was much more up-to-date and ran me through Starkid productions, where Twisted originates, and what to expect from one of their shows.
When the show kicked off and we were laughing within the first five minutes and watching the cast sing and dance, I was a bit more prepared than I would have been, if I had based my understanding off a movie I watched nearly twenty years ago (God that makes me sound old – disclaimer, I’m not really a Disney adult if you haven’t already guessed).
The show had everyone giggling and gasping, and the characters and actors were compelling and enchanting. The accompanying music score, played live by the band in the pit was impressive. It wasn’t hard to get swept up in the world of Ja’far and his struggle to save the kingdom. In the intermission, I went and grabbed a program and had a little read about the talented people who worked on this show.
After the break, we watched with horror as things continued to go wrong for Ja’far and the kingdom, and how Aladdin, the noble and humble Robin Hood figure in the Disney version, devolved into a deceitful hornbag, who would do anything to get in Princess Jasmine’s pants. It would have been easy to be swept up in the main characters, but the secondary characters were equally funny and attention-grabbing.
It was a real treat to see a live show with a live cast and see how much the audience was engaging with and enjoying the show. I may not have answered the question about Ja’far and the rise of villains as good guys narrative arc but I had fun whilst doing it!
Huge congrats to the UON Musos crew, cast and musicians who worked on this show – that’s another super successful production up the club’s sleeve.
Feature Image: Phoebe Metcalfe, Yak Media