Belt Up's Outland

The works of Lewis Carroll are some of most overused in all of the arts. Just take a glance at the Fringe guide this year. Nearly every theatre company assumes that they can do something new, fun and interesting with the nonsense poet’s work, and most of the time they simply don’t hit the mark. Thank God for Belt Up then, who have combined elements of Charles Dodgeson’s later life and struggle with epilepsy with his later work Sylvie and Bruno perfectly. Curiouser and Curiouser.The show jumps between many different realities. Carroll moves seamlessly between the world of reality and the fantastical world of his stories: Outland. The development of Carroll’s illness is paired with expansion of the story in Outland as the two worlds inevitably collide around this sick man.The set created in the C soco studio was glorious. The room is set out with sofas and cushions in the round in what looks like a smoky attic study. The walls are covered with frames containing book pages, and even the ceiling is covered with soft fabrics lit by uncovered lamps. The scene brings us into the action brilliantly and sets an atmosphere perfectly for storytelling. When someone sat in the wrong place, one of the actors simply stole their handbag and put them in the right location.The set was the perfect backdrop for the consummate performances. The portrayal of Carroll himself is brilliant. The man comes across as charming and imaginative as he shambles around wonderfully with the support of his cane while his ever-increasing illness affects him. The characters of Outland are switched to liquidly, and all are distinctive and fun. My personal favourite was the King of Dogland who presides over the room with hilarious canine grace. Audience interaction is here too. People are stood up to join in and play characters such as the barrister and the banker in the hunting of the Snark. This happens smoothly and the audience are managed brilliantly by the three involving actors. The fleeting references to Alice pull us further down the rabbit hole but you don’t need to be a Carroll fan to enjoy this curious, immersive and fun piece of theatre. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

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The Blurb

Meet a host of Carroll's weird and wonderful characters, who will guide you deeper into the imagined worlds you have forgotten. You must ask yourself: Where will your dreams take you? 'Edinburgh Fringe royalty' (Time Out). www.beltuptheatre.com

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