WHAT a show! - Watching Wicked again at the Mayflower four years after it's last phenomenal Southampton run I am still utterly blown away - almost lost for words!

And yet how ingenious to name a musical after a single word that can mean evil and morally wrong but also playfully mischievous and even excellent and wonderful.

For the topsy-turvy themes of good and evil are at the core of the show that rather refreshingly centres on not the typical boy meets girl love story but the friendship between two young women - Glinda the Good and Elphaba aka The Wicked Witch of the West

Right at the outset it poses the question: “Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”.

And as the show explores the concepts of good versus evil, prejudice and diversity, and the adage “don’t judge the book by the cover”, we appreciate this moral tale that is delivered with such riotous fun and incredible pathos.

What makes this plot so exciting is that it covers what takes place before, simultaneously with and after the well known Wizard of Oz tale.

The idea of time, being able to look back and have the benefit of hindsight, is ever present as the staging features a giant clock backdrop and the numerous cogs and workings of a timepiece; even Glinda arrives in what looks like a giant pendulum across the stage.

It is all rather revelatory as we realise we have only had a very blinkered knowledge of the two witches until now.

The music is incredible with so many brilliant numbers- from the showstopping Defying Gravity at the end of Act I to the heart-wrenching duet For Good, and the costumes simply dazzle.

But what an extraordinary cast and ensemble of 31 they have on board. The vocal and dramatic performances of Amy Ross as Elphaba and Helen Woolf as Glinda are utterly breathtaking: they make you laugh, make you cry and simply marvel at the power of musical theatre at its absolute best.

Aaron Sidwell (best known as ‘Steven Beale’ in EastEnders) as Fiyero, Steven Pinder (best known as ‘Max Farnham’ in Brookside) as The Wizard & Doctor Dillamond, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarose,Iddon Jones as Boq and the entire wonderful ensemble all contribute first class performances too to an utterly spellbinding, enchanting and uplifting show.

This epic West End and Broadway production is making its final run at the Mayflower - it would be a crime to miss it!

Tickets for Wicked (now until 27 October ) are on sale now via Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.