Alice and the Dream Child

Transforum Theatre’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland sets the Lewis Carroll classic in a mental hospital. This is an intriguing choice from the outset, not least because of Carroll’s widely known drug addiction. With Alice already a play conceived out of the immediate effects of LSD consumption, a more overt interaction with Wonderland and the psychotic effects of mental illness is an interesting premise.

Natalie Rosmarin’s script is far too weak to revolutionise the familiar story

“I would rather know my own story than invent it,” Alice suggests. Unfortunately I’d rather watch the play I know than watch this version. Natalie Rosmarin’s script is far too weak to revolutionise the familiar story. Adapted plotlines are vague and unexplained. We learn that the White Rabbit’s anxiety is down to him being too “late” for his dead daughter, but that character development soon disappears. So too does the protagonist’s storyline – Alice is admitted to the psychiatric ward due to physical abuse from Charles (a superfluous character addition originally made by Tim Burton’s film) but despite the potential grit this relationship offers, it all disperses too quickly. Nothing is developed, nothing is resolved: one moment Alice is captured, the next she is free, with little drama in-between. In short, this is a messy reimagining, turning the already surrealist tale into further nonsense.

The lacklustre dialogue is crucified further by the direction and performance. While original lines and characters are immersed within a hospital scenario, the magic of Wonderland is lost – the eight-strong cast prance around in black, turning awkwardly between scenes. While some hope comes from Liz Woodard’s characterisation of the White Rabbit, the necessary humour usually elicited from the Mad Hatter is lost as Molly Millsaps multi-roles. Anna Gallucci and Rebecca Rand do well to mirror each other as Alice and Dream Alice respectively, but unfortunately their tone throughout is one of constant whinging – they would have done well to adopt a more naturalistic delivery.

Too much is expected of the audience in this short production – the set is non-existent, costumes are lacklustre and performances are poor. There are ten adaptations of Carroll’s classic at this year’s Fringe, don’t see this one. 

Reviews by Sarah Gough

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The Blurb

Adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice and the Dream Child follows Alice after she is forcefully committed to a mental institution. Alice must remember who betrayed her or she will never convince the Red Queen to let her go back home.