Down the Rabbit Hole

From its inception this play has a lot to live up to, as there are many shows where a writer has taken an established fantasy and added a twist of reality. This production has a strong idea, trying to delve into the emotional territory where fantasy and reality are combined. Lewis Carroll is tormented in his sleep by the change he faces as Alice leaves him to grow up. Meanwhile Alice finds her new world a turbulent and threatening one where she must finally be in control of the decisions she makes.The play begins with Carroll reading to Alice before she leaves for a new boarding school. While attempting to finish Through the Looking Glass before she leaves, he falls asleep, and the fantasy world he created becomes a dark and formidable place. The Mad Hatter plays the role of a manipulative child abductor, forcing the Cheshire Cat and the Mouse to do his dirty work against their will while the March Hare dotes on his crazy ways. The Mad Hatter wants to play his games and have fun with the children he steals. In the meantime the characters around him are starting to have their doubts about his actions as the children clearly hate it. It is up to Alice whether, at her tender age, she can stand up and resist such dodgy characters, but in doing so she may also have to break away from the loving comfort of her Uncle.The show had this strong idea that could have made for a fulfilling play, but this was not achieved because the script was pretty poorly written. It attempted to recreate the quirky characters that Carroll invented by giving each one a morbid twist. Unfortunately these were half baked caricatures that failed to create the threatening fantasy. While the performers tried their best to bring across the personalities as they saw them, this was not enough as the script failed to make them strong. The relationships between the roles were massively underdeveloped. This resulted in a failure to make them respond well with one another, and in a show which focuses on interactions between intense identities this was not good enough. It felt like someone has read Through The Looking Glass and tried to extract any dark gimmicks that could be harvested. As a result the play lost its focus on the ideas that tried to tie it all together. The play becomes disconnected and confused until eventually the only energy that drives it forward comes from the attempts of the performers rescue something from an underdeveloped script.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

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★★★★★

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★★★★

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The Blurb

Darkly funny, radical reworking of Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy, in which Carroll comes face-to-face with his creations, and finds himself fighting for Alice's life with the Mad Hatter. Delightfully imaginative and rollickingly entertaining production.

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