Waiting For Alice

As Lewis Carrol broods on his missing protagonist, and the White Rabbit is sent in search of an eight-year-old girl to fill the role, the Hatter, the Dormouse, the Hare and the Mock Turtle all await the coming of ‘the Alice’, the girl who will be the best character of them all.Immediately, the design of Waiting For Alice stands out. The stage is set with step-ladders covered in cup-cakes, and each character has a simple, beautiful look. The dormouse in particular is a triumph of costuming, while the mock-turtle’s rucksack is a model of effective simplicity. With free tea and biscuits attractively served on saucers, and a live violinist, the whole feel of the piece is genuinely charming. The opening, in which the perfectly chosen voice of Carrol inspects the incipient tea-party, is a very pleasing theatrical moment indeed.The script is very good, combining lines from the man himself with ones he could have written, and the company have excellently captured the sort of clean, nonsensical nursery wit beloved of Lear et al. There are a few off-notes; repeated use of the word ‘OK’ is disappointingly slack, but this does not detract much from dialogue which is rich and entertaining throughout. The choreography, too, is great fun.It is unfortunate, then, that the company have opted for traverse staging, since the action is directed forwards throughout, and many little touches go missing from the side view. It is also a shame that, despite the great lines, the energy frequently flags, and the actors, although they do a good job (the dormouse especially) often let things go too quiet to maintain it. They might perhaps benefit from greater use of their violinist, to cover some of the quieter moments.Despite this, it remains a very pretty production, an interesting evocation of characters at the whim of their author, waiting to be written into perpetuity, and a pleasant way to spend an hour in the afternoon.

The Blurb

An absurd, comic and explosive piece of new writing from the critically acclaimed company emerged from Bristol University. Where and what is Alice? A dark secret lurks in the stained cups. You are cordially invited to tea.