Rage of the Stage's Dorothy in Oz | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Rage of the Stage's Dorothy in Oz

Any play whose first line is "Shut the fuck up, Toto!" will appeal to the 12-year-old in everyone.


Dorothy in Oz, at Rage of the Stage Players, revives the troupe's first show, written and directed by James Michael Shoberg. One can see why it's back — any play whose first line is "Shut the fuck up, Toto!" will appeal to the 12-year-old in everyone. That is all you need to decide whether the show will be funny to you.

In familiar Rage of the Stage fashion, the play takes a children's story, in this case the MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, and gives it a 2003-mall-goth reimagining. Dorothy, played by the expertly sarcastic Adrienne Fischer, is afflicted with bipolar disorder, given an untested medication, and hallucinates a strange hospital where she seeks Doctor Oz, the administrator, to request release.

She is, of course, joined by three friends, including Skarekrow, a heroin addict with Dick Van Dyke's Cockney accent, and Rusty Tinneman, who has anger problems.

Joseph A. Roots plays Dorothy's third friend, Mr. Lyons, an impotent sex addict who wishes to recover his "courage," a euphemism for virility which no human being has ever used.  Roots neuters (ha ha) a little of the inherent horror of his character by aping a cartoon — he tip-toes with his arms raised high, he howls and a-woo-gas, and does everything short of having his eyes pop out of his head when he sees anything with hips.

The strongest performer was Jen James as Dr. Green, who at first plays a very funny unethical doctor (a phrase which I have never typed before). Her scene is incontestably the highlight of the show. Later, as the hallucinated Wicked Witch, she has to act like a cartoon Nazi, which was almost a disappointment after her initial appearance.

A word of warning: This play contains one of the more demeaning portrayals of transgender people I've seen in a while — and if you spend much time at the theater, you understand the gravity of that statement. In the show's marketing, hormone-replacement therapy is classified as a "deranged experiment." My night's audience found it funny, but you might want to brace yourself.

Women & Non-binary Bike Summit
9 images

Women & Non-binary Bike Summit

By Mars Johnson