An Elphaba Complex

Tonight – completely unexpectedly – I’ve got a ticket to see Wicked for the third time. Oh how I love teacher friends whose students drop out of school trips! Friends and sporadic readers of this blog will know that my love of Wicked goes beyond my love of most musicals. I utterly adore it.

I saw it within a month of it opening (most expensive theatre tickets I’ve ever bought, but they were so worth it) and have probably spent hundreds (?!) of pounds fuelling my habit since then. Three trips to see the show, the CD, the score, the backing tracks, an Idina Menzel album, the book – I could go on.

Anyway, it’s been a hit with lots of my close friends, mainly the ones that are into singing and fabulous musicals. We all pretty much want to be Elphaba and not just because she gets the best songs, but because it’s a story we identify with…
The green girl, unattractive to all her contemporaries and overshadowed by a conventionally popular (and beautifully blonde) girl, eventually defies the odds and the lovely guy falls in love with her. 

A male friend, who I’ll call Idiot Boy, referred to this a couple of years ago as the “Elphaba Complex”.
After he’d heard about my last trip to see it, where I was accompanied by my sister,  he asked “so, does she want to Elphaba too?”. Good question. She’d probably love to sing Defying Gravity up in the air (who wouldn’t?) but of course she doesn’t want to be her in the same way – she’s married, she’s got her Fiyero. [For the record, my brother-in-law is not given to wearing breeches…] 

For other, terminally single female friends, it’s more to do with feeling like no one will ever fall in love with us. Elphaba’s big issue was that she was green (I’m not even going to begin explaining how this happened, read Wikipedia if you’re completely uninitiated to the world of Wicked), we have other issues – being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, not pretty enough – whatever. I think we all have crushes on unattainable men and wish that things would work out for us like they did for Elphaba. (Except that we don’t want to have to fake our own death or turn our lover into a scarecrow in order to succeed!)

I laughed when Idiot Boy originally teased me about this ‘complex’, but on reflection, he may have had a point…


Elphaba (the green one) and the beautiful, popular girl…

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