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Somewhere under the rainbow

From the Associated Press

ON the stage of a small Dublin theater, actors dressed as Munchkins are swearing, stealing, fighting, drinking and smoking opium.

They’re the seamy underside of the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” now on display in the Irish capital in “Babylon Heights,” a backstage drama complete with drug addiction, sex and suicide among the movie’s Munchkin performers.

The show, which opened Tuesday and will run through next Saturday, has titillated the tabloid press. Britain’s Daily Mail recounted with relish the “shocking episodes of drunkenness, depravity and wild sexual propositions.”

“Babylon Heights” was co-written by Irvine Welsh, whose 1993 novel “Trainspotting” put Scottish heroin addicts and salty Edinburgh slang on the literary map.

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In the play, first staged earlier this year at San Francisco’s Exit Theatre, the characters are played by full-sized actors on an oversized set.

Welsh and co-author Dean Cavanagh confine four people -- a New Jersey tough guy, a self-important thespian, an Irish lass and a sensitive Englishman -- in a dingy hotel room, then let the tension and tantrums unfold.

Welsh hopes to bring his take on the “Oz” saga to theaters in Chicago and New York.

“It’s the first modern American fairy tale,” director Graham Cantwell says of “Oz.”

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“If you scratch the surface of any fairy tale, you’ll find something pretty nasty going on underneath.”


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