The Winds of War: A Recollection of the Kansas Collection, Ch. 8: The Slippers

The following is a full-spoiler walkthrough for The Slippers, the eighth installment in The Speakeasy Society’s Kansas Collection series. These chapters are not expected to remount soon, so feel free to read on if you’ve missed this performance, and read our review here.

 

 

Oscar Diggs looks tired. The case he carries seems to weigh heavier on him than its contents allow. He asks if we’re here because we got his message, and we nod. He rattles the case, saying he can’t be sure, it’s locked, but he thinks that the Silver Slippers are inside. He motions for us to quickly follow him and we trot out from the foyer we’d been waiting in and into the damp night behind him.

He tells us a bit about the Slippers as we walk, how the Wicked Witch of the East used to wear them and he could never defeat her when she had them on, that they’re magic in and of themselves, changing shape to suit the wearer. Finally, his pace slowing to a stop, he mentions that Dorothy had them on when they first met. He turns to face us, his face tight.

You’ve all heard about Dorothy, yes? We don’t have time to dwell on that, sad as it is. The Queen is still looking for these.

 

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John McCormick as Oscar Diggs

 

 

He gestures with the case again and motions us onward. We stay close and quiet, as he leads us around the building and up a back stairwell into a hallway. He explains that we are entering a hostile environment, somewhat of his own making. Glinda and Phil have been in hiding and don’t exactly expect visitors, but here we all are. Oscar hopes that by bringing the Slippers to Glinda per Jinjur’s final request, he’ll be able to restore some peace and join up with what’s left of the Patchwork Resistance.

He sends two of us in first, hands in the air, and from my spot in the hall I can hear how upset Glinda is. She orders us all into a room covered with maps, scribbled equations, and bizarre, antiquated machinery. They’ve clearly been holed up here for some time, though the exact length is unclear; the portals between Kansas and Oz have grown so unstable that time is no longer functioning as it should.

Glinda eyes us warily before scoffing at Oscar. You were followed. She rolls her eyes. Oscar insists we weren’t but Glinda interrupts him. I know you’re out there, you can come out now.

The Lion, never missing an opportunity to insert herself into a bad situation, slinks into the room, grinning. Glinda gives a knowing, frustrated look to Oscar before grabbing two of us and pulling us out into the hallway with Lion. Check her bag, she says.

Inside the bag, inexplicably, is a statue of a chicken. Lion calls it a “bargaining chip,” remarking that it may look worthless to us, but it isn’t to everyone. I recall a tale from Oz I once heard about a talking chicken, a friend to Dorothy in her adventures, but I can’t be sure this chicken is the same. Just in case, we put her gently back in Lion’s bag.

You’re a traitor, says Glinda, recalling how easily the Lion climbed into bed with Queen Ozma/Phoebe when the opportunity presented itself. Lion laughs, and remarks that she must be confusing her with General Junjur. There’s a tell-tale flash of anger in Glinda’s eyes  as she hisses: Don’t say her name.

Lion reminds Glinda that the Scarecrow King wouldn’t have been defeated if not for her, she’s the one who provided the murder weapon — Glinda’s golden gun — after all. Maybe if Glinda gave her enough incentive this time, too, she could make all this nastiness go away. Maybe she should consider that instead of defaulting to anger.

Glinda narrows her eyes. This whole time you think you’ve kept the top spinning…but you’ve just been chasing your own tail. She goes on to explain that Ozma is real, that she’s split in two  – the Good parts are within Phil and the Bad within Phoebe – but Lion doesn’t seem to believe her. We try to explain that we were there, that we saw Phil turn into Ozma and tell Glinda not to give up on Good.

Lion tries to explain how ridiculous that sounds. There’s no such thing as Good and Bad…people use it to justify reality, to justify the decisions they make to survive…the only important thing is survival. She seems to imply that both she and Glinda should know that better than anyone.

Glinda says none of this matters now, her location has been compromised and the time dilation is getting worse. She asks us the date, noting that it’s May 15th to her, even though we explain that it’s still March here in Kansas. She says we’re running out of time, the date confusion is more indication that both our world (Kansas) and the world of Oz are on a collision course, both heading for collapse if something isn’t done soon.

Glinda and Lion continue to argue until Phil throws open the apartment door and ushers us inside, telling Glinda there’s something she needs to see.

 

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Natalie Fryman as Glinda

 

While Glinda and Lion are outside, the rest of us and Oscar are left with an exhausted Phil Daring, who, despite everything he’s been through, seems happy to have some company.  Since we last saw him, Glinda’s been trying to teach him magic, and he asks us to explain to Oscar what happened on that rooftop – that the Good Ozma appeared – and that he believes there’s still a part of his sister inside Bad Ozma that he can save. Oscar is less dubious at the thought of Ozma being truly returned than Lion was, but he’s clearly the kind of man who’s long stopped truly believing anything he hasn’t seen for himself. He mentions that he’s brought the Slippers and needs Glinda’s help to open the case that contains them, and an excited Phil rushes to fetch Glinda from the hall.

Once Glinda rejoins us, Phil explains that Oscar’s brought the Slippers, and she seems annoyed that Oscar would end up with an object so important, that Junjur would trust him with it.  Oscar explains that he doesn’t know why she chose him, but she sent word that Glinda would be the only one able to open the box. It’s now that he turns to us and asks if any of us helped him solve the series of puzzles Jinjur sent along with the box, imploring us to tell Glinda the decoded phrase we’d been told to give her.

Myself and another Kansan speak up. Glinda can see in darkness, we say. Glinda doesn’t react at first, instead asking Oscar if he knew that Jinjur was responsible for the attack that massacred her people. I’d heard, but that doesn’t matter now. She starts to protest but Oscar cuts her off. You have every right to hate her, he says. He says he can’t explain Jinjur’s actions, or even his own, but he’s here now, and the Slippers are here now, and we need them. Just open the fucking box, he begs.

Glinda laughs ruefully before fetching a small black light from her bag. She hands it to me and I shine it over the face of Oscar’s case, revealing a set of numbers — the code to the lock. Inside the box are the Slippers, formed now as a pair of sparkly combat boots to suit Glinda’s taste.  There’s also a note for Oscar inside, which Glinda angrily shoves into his hands. The Slippers never worked for Dorothy, we know, but they’ll work for Glinda, surely. They’ll restore her magic, right? They have to restore her magic.

 

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Left to right: Matthew Bamberg-Johnson as Phil Daring, Jessica Rosilyn as The Lion, John McCormick as Oscar Diggs, and Natalie Fryman as Glinda

 

Glinda tells us about her sister, how she found the Slippers and forsook the Good to reign terror on Oz, and if Dorothy’s house hadn’t crushed her, the Witch of the East, who knows what would have happened. Glinda gave the Slippers to Dorothy because she didn’t want a witch to have that much power, but now, she says, standing up with the Slippers finally laced tight, we have no choice.

She has us form a circle and clicks her heels three times, extending her fingers out and….nothing. We wait for a long, quiet few seconds, until Glinda gets frustrated and starts to remove the boots.

Maybe they just need time, to be energized or something, Phil offers. That’s not how magic works, spits Glinda, yanking the boots from her feet and shoving them back in the case. She says the shoes are useless and we need to focus on reality: her and Phil’s cover has been blown and they have to move. She starts to usher us out of the room.

Oscar stops her, Phil should try the Slippers…Ozma told you to teach Phil magic for some reason. Jinjur sent me the Slippers saying there’s a deeper magic to them. What’s the harm in trying? 

For once, Glinda seems to agree with him, motioning for Phil to try them on. Phil says he doesn’t think they’ll fit, but when he opens the box, they’ve changed into a shiny pair of loafers.  Phil puts them on and Glinda tries to prepare him, telling him to focus. There is the body, and there are the Winds, she has him repeat. He, too, holds a hand out in front of him, clicking his heels three times. She directs him, imploring him to find Ozma inside him, to let her control the Winds, to lift the now empty Slippers box off the ground in front of him.

She calls out to Ozma once more, and counts to three. Again, that silence. Again, nothing. Glinda tells him to take off the Slippers and starts to throw us all out of the apartment again. Oscar steps up to her, saying there has to be a reason Jinjur sent the Slippers to him, that we can’t just give up like this. I am tired, Oscar, she snaps. I am tired of smashing my head against the wall over and over.

 

kansas collection, speakeasy society, slippers

Left to right: John McCormick as Oscar Diggs, Natalie Fryman as Glinda, Matthew Bamberg-Johnson as Phil Daring, and Jessica Rosilyn as The Lion

 

Phil interrupts, asking if she and Oscar are certain that Dorothy never got the Slippers to work. I’m sure, Glinda says. Phil suggests sneaking a letter into the Palace to ask her, and it dawns on us that both Phil and Glinda, in their self-imposed exile, don’t know that Dorothy has been killed. Oscar quietly explains that Dorothy left the Palace, that Jack and Tik tried to help her, but the Tinman murdered her before she could get to safety.

Phil is apoplectic. It can’t be…she was going to lead the Patchwork Resistance, she recruited you, Oscar. He holds his head in his hands – one of his old headaches rising to the surface again – as Oscar and Glinda start to shout, each blaming the other for what happened to Dorothy, for every terrible thing that’s happened so far. Their voices continue to  rise even as Oscar notices that Phil is clearly in distress, a cacophony of sound that rises to a loud buzzing in the room. The lights begin to flicker as Phil finally drowns it all out, screaming.

STOP!

The lights go out then come up again just as quickly. Glinda and Oscar are frozen in place, mid-argument, their eyes still moving in confusion and terror, but their bodies completely immobilized. Phil is confused, but then he starts to laugh. 

There is my body, and there are the Winds. I did this. This wasn’t Ozma, this was me, my thought becoming a reality.

Just as quickly as his laughter came, it fades as he realizes that he isn’t sure how to undo what he’s done. He starts to rapidly recount the events that led him to freeze them. He says he was thinking of Phoebe, and he recalled the nightmare he’s been having ever since Ozma first appeared in him: Phoebe falling into darkness, alone and afraid. He felt like he could almost reach out and touch her, and a light appeared underneath her and it kept her from fading away.  He tried to reach out but all the arguing from Glinda and Oscar caused the vision to fade and suddenly he was back in this room and the anger was so present and he just stopped it.

Glinda was wrong, he says. It’s not about disappearing, it’s not about me making space for Ozma, it’s about me being here, now. It’s about the connections that I have with others…the Winds that flow between us, me, my sister. Between everything.

He smiles, genuinely now.

I can do magic.

With a flick of his hand, he releases Glinda and Oscar from their frozen state. Glinda rushes to him as he starts to collapse, exhausted from his new abilities. It’s now that we realize that, in the commotion, the Lion has absconded, taking the Slippers with her. Phil begins to panic, saying we need them, but Glinda reminds him that he has magic of his own. He did it without the Slippers, without Ozma. And maybe that’s what Ozma wanted from him all along.

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John McCormick, Jessica Rosilyn, Matthew Bamberg-Johnson, and Natalie Fryman

 

Glinda tells Oscar to leave again; she’ll stay with Phil until he’s rested and they’ll relocate. Oscar refuses, reminding her that Phil is always fond of saying that we’ve all destroyed the world a little, and now that he sees a chance to finally fix things, he’s not going anywhere. I await your orders, Commander, he says.

She sizes him up and finally nods. Get your friends out of here safely, Mr. Diggs, you and I have some work to do.

Oscar smirks and leads us out, down the hall and down the steps, back to the street below.   Before he departs, he tells us that he wasn’t lying, he doesn’t know why Jinjur sent him the Slippers, maybe some final redemption, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we may just be able to see ourselves through to the end of this story, now, with a little luck. 

He shoos us all off into the night and begins to climb the steps again. The Storm is still coming, after all, and he, Glinda, and Phil have a lot of preparing to do before it hits.

 

 

 

All photos by Model05 Productions.

 

You can find more information about The Kansas Collection and upcoming Speakeasy Society shows, including the upcoming finale to Kansas, on their website, Instagram, and Facebook. Please see our Event Guide for more immersive theater in the Los Angeles area.

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Cristen Brinkerhoff

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