Scraps is the latest work to feed our ongoing Oz obsession | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Scraps is the latest work to feed our ongoing Oz obsession 

The patchwork girl travels to the Emerald City to become a friend of Dorothy.

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Paul Clark

With 14 books, a handful of plays, and even a comic strip on the beings and doings of the magical land of Oz, you would think L. Frank Baum, its self-styled Royal Historian, had adequately expounded upon the adventures of the quirky folk of a more colorful universe. However, our hunger for a more fabulous reality being insatiable, many others have taken up the task since Baum's death 99 years ago, producing dozens more books, and, of course, Wicked and The Wiz. The latest in this unstoppable efflorescence of fanfic is Anthony Whitaker's Scraps, premiering at the Den under the direction of Jamal Howard.

A ragdoll sewn from a superfluous quilt and brought to life with magic powder, Scraps (Brittney Brown) doesn't eat, can't sleep, and uses her exquisite brain for maintaining a routine that doesn't offend the local Munchkins. Made-up dreams and undrunk cups of tea seem her only destiny until a timely chat with the Tin Man teaches her that all the best things in life are pretend. Off she sets on a journey to Enlightenment (er, the Emerald City), where she hobnobs with the upper class: Dorothy and Ozma, Ojo the Unlucky, Betsy Bobbin, and more, each bitchier than the canonical stories would have you believe.

The essence of Scraps is her optimism; the essence of Scraps is its unveiling of the complexity of relationships and identities that are central to America's favorite Kansas alternative. The ensemble gleefully acquiesces to all the shapeshifting required with multiple roles and moveable set pieces. Charlie Irving brings vulnerability and complexity to her supporting role as our old pal Dorothy.   v

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