Alice in Wonderland

At the top of the staircase which leads to C soco, you can hear the sound of hushed voices. As you pass through the double, ply-wood doors it resolves into conversation, half-casual and half-theatrical. It is the cast. Someone has realised that this show, without scenery and scanty on props, is swamped in the frankly enormous dilapidated room, and has dispersed the performers to fill the space. Now, in awkward, scattered groups, they create a loose sort of atmosphere with barely audible chatter.The audience too is rather lost, with some seventy seats in a venue which could seat hundreds. The performers make a noble effort to turn this into an immersive piece, crawling through the audience and shouting from behind them. Apart, however, from one battle scene, in which the zombie army of the Black Queen approaches the defiant Red forces from all corners of the room, they do not succeed in turning the space to their advantage.Anyone familiar with the works of the Revd. Dodgson will have noticed that last sentence with interest. I do not know why the piece contained zombies either. Or a Black Queen. Or, for that matter, a groundless and rather vapid romance between Alice and the White Rabbit, whose only attraction, apart from being the secret general of the Red Queen’s army, seems to have been his long hair and his ability to skateboard across the stage. To invigorate this new piece, it seems to have been necessary to make the Hatter a transvestite, and set the whole thing in a museum, with the overall, unexplored, unexplained implication that Alice, a convent schoolgirl with a restrictive teacher, is in some way delusional, on account of the malign influence of her cat.Apart from the names, the only real concession to Carroll is an irrelevant, wholesale quotation of The Walrus and the Carpenter. While the original Alice never got the best lines in her dialogue, this Alice is forced to deliver the most outrageously corny phrases, especially when the lights go out, such that one feels positively sorry for the poor actress, who cannot inject them with any life.The sensation is of watching an A-level devised piece, not yet finished, and which for some reason included the teachers amongst the cast. In all, an unsatisfactory and thoroughly confusing experience at ten in the morning.

Performances

The Blurb

Mad Hatters, Cheshire Cats, White Rabbits... can only mean one thing: Alice has returned to Wonderland. But did she ever really leave? New adaptation of Lewis Caroll's classic.