Wonderland

Wonderland is the story of Alice’s encounters in the tale of the Red Queen. It comes with a new and somewhat confusing preamble of underground chaos created by an untimely death at the hands of the Jabberwock. The need for this is questionable when the original offers so much scope, but once over the saga unfolds more traditionally.

Children will probably smile at the characters and like the sounds and brightness of this show but adults might leave wishing it could have been more fulfilling.

There are some commendable elements in this production from various departments. Wardrobe has done a fine job creating costumes in an abundance of colours to suit the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter in particular, all with appropriate make-up. The solo character of Tweedledum/dee wears an appropriately split suit costume with strongly contrasting sides that perfectly fits his role. With gymnastic flourishes he narrates the story, sings, leaps from block to block and pops up in unlikely places; undoubtedly the most successful character creation in the show.

The large number of staging blocks make for some interesting scene changes, including the construction of the inevitable chess board and create well-used levels. They are versatile and rather fun but too unwieldy at times. The noise and effort involved in moving them often detracts from the immediate action.

The original score is lively and well played by actor-musicians fully integrated into the story. The flautist, saxophonist and clarinetist clearly have fun in their costumes and makeup as they play seated on blocks and while moving around the stage. Backing the whole show is some solid keyboard work. There are weaknesses, however. Dialogue is often lost through poor enunciation and inability to project and at times the vocal range of the songs seems to be too demanding and there are also tuning issues.

The University of York's Central Hall Musical Society has clearly had fun putting this show together and their enjoyment on stage is visible. Children will probably smile at the characters and like the sounds and brightness of this show but adults might leave wishing it could have been more fulfilling.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Each morning Alice wakes from her nightmare filled with a desire to journey to a Wonderland thrown into chaos by an untimely death at the hands of the Jabberwock. She discovers the royal sisters divided, the kingdom left to suffer under the rule of the vindictive Red Queen. See through the looking glass in this whirlwind reimagining of a Wonderland that existed before Alice, but cannot go on without her... Featuring actor-musicians, this family-friendly adaptation of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland stories is brought to life through actor-musicianship, physical theatre and the power of your imagination.

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