McAlister in Wonderland

Opening with a strong rendition of ‘Daisy Daisy’, McAlister in Wonderland takes us on an all-singing, all-Scottish reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s classic. In this production commemorating 100 years since the start of the First World War, the cadet McAlister is posted on the western front and encounters some unusual characters, beginning with a puffin who is very late. We follow McAlister as he attempts to get home while making stranger and stranger acquaintances, some more familiar than others.

The show delicately manages to draw a comparison between the madness of war and the madness of Alice in Wonderland while almost completely steering clear of politics.

The smiling, multi-rolling performances of Preston Clare and Beag Horn are whirlwinds of energy, while James McCreight plays a thoroughly wholesome McAlister. Aided by a makeshift Loch Ness Monster and a plethora of inventive props and costumes, the three bounce around the stage dipping between pantomime, wartime songs and the utterly surreal. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for audience participation-- there are papier-mâché instruments and rousing sing-alongs with the lyrics helpfully on a whiteboard at the side of the stage.

The comedy is gentle and predictable, though some of the translations of Carroll’s original are rather stretched. The show falls into the typical pantomime trap of being just a little too long in certain places. However, the appearance of the headless Queen of Scots is an unexpected comic highlight. Horn dons an impressive costume as the Queen and the historic Christmas Day football match forms a brilliant parallel with croquet game in the Alice’s tale.

The show delicately manages to draw a comparison between the madness of war and the madness of Alice in Wonderland while almost completely steering clear of politics. Despite the consistently cheery performances, however, it’s impossible to escape an unsung sombre note in the final song. Apart from some slightly risqué material from Tweedle Dumfries and Tweedle Dundee, the show is very tame. It’s fun family entertainment for grandparents and wee bairns alike.

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Performances

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The Blurb

Commemorating 100 years since the start of the First World War and inspired by Lewis Carroll, Theatre Presto proudly presents McAlister in Wonderland. McAlister is a young cadet stuck in the trenches of the First World War when suddenly a puffin runs past. McAlister follows the creature and escapes the traumatic horrors of the war by entering his own imaginary Wonderland. A light-hearted production intended for family viewing, using songs from the First World War.

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