Alice – Underground Lives My Buried Mind (Deflowering Lewis Carroll's Script)

Physical theatre can always lend itself to a degree of interpretation, and inevitably the risk of confusion. I often think of it as being one of the trickiest forms of performance for this very reason – where do you draw the line between the aesthetic and the literal representation? Arguably this divide, the directorial edit that separates the abstract from exact reflection is what determines the success of such a form, but again this falls victim to a raw subjectivity only possible when the visual art is intended to be non-representational.

Expect to be challenged: in true Wonderland style the answers will be there; just be prepared to have to work for them.

ALICE – Underground Lives My Buried Mind, though breathtakingly spectacular in its brightest moments, falls victim to a sense of convolution and ambiguity in its message. Whilst I am an advocate of allowing an audience to interpret something as it sees fit, a performance needs structure; it needs the groundwork to which someone can add their own fleshed and thought-out explanation.

The set, comprising of nine separate AstroTurf panels – each illuminated at varying times by its own desk lamp – does nothing to aid the storytelling, instead serving only to make the space otherworldly and curious in its appearance. Additionally, any dialogue is drowned out entirely by a combination of unamplified voices, weak projection and unintelligible pronunciation.

Individually and as an ensemble, the cast excel in their physicality. In particular, I thought the representation of (what I assume to be) the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party went beyond expectation, and pushed the boundary of what theatre can be, although I have to wonder if it stood out partly because of the lesser success of certain other scenes.

After the performance I checked the Fringe programme to see if my lack of comprehension was an isolated occurrence – the official description is equally vague. “A girl confronts herself with her own ghosts”; hardly a beginning, middle and end kind of plot. In hindsight though, I wonder if perhaps that is the very point: the audience is as lost as Alice seems to be, and maybe the so-called ghosts form part of the confusion and suffering she is so clearly experiencing. Possibly the piece is as much of an experience for the audience as it is for the protagonist; meeting all manner of dark and twisted fantasies in the process together.

Disjointed both in intention and in execution, Alice will have you questioning what you expect of a performance. Its success in this pontification will, inevitably, come down to your analysis of its figurations – but expect to be challenged: in true Wonderland style the answers will be there; just be prepared to have to work for them.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

PBH's Free Fringe @ Bar Bados Complex

Meatball Séance

★★
Just the Tonic at Marlin's Wynd

Sam Morrison: Hello, Daddy!

★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Square Go

★★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Parakeet

★★★
Assembly Roxy

Since U Been Gone

★★★★
Summerhall

Sex Education

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

In a large and sophisticated house lives Alice and her family. Bright and airy rooms; except the one where at night rests the child whose body is in transition between the naive girl and the impetuous woman. She confronts herself with her own ghosts, coming to question if this world is really the Wonderland. Alice is us. Naked before the world, thrown into it to face it.

Most Popular See More

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets