Review: Alice In Wonderland

Photo courtesy of Andrew Billington

The New Vic has brought to life the 1865 imaginings of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ as its festive production, first staged at the venue in 2011. It tells the tale of Alice as she makes her way through the famous fantasy world filled with strange characters and anthropomorphic creatures.

Adapted and directed by Theresa Heskins (‘Tom, Dick & Harry’, ‘Marvellous’ plus many more) the tale has an overhaul and Alice begins her journey on a boat, her family hungry and searching the nearby town for food, Alice herself struggling with literacy. Mesmerised by a famous magician (The Great Blanco) she follows him to the theatre where he is rehearsing and begins her journey to wonderland by falling through the stage trap door.

The extremely clever use of the set, stage and props seamlessly transport you from the initial boat, through to bustling town, backstage and down into Wonderland. It is a joy to watch the cast ingenuously move and adapt their surroundings.

All the favourite characters are there, from the Red Queen (Purvi Parmar), the Mad Hatter (Danielle Bird), Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Jimmy Chambers and Angelina Chudi) plus many others including the White Rabbit (Peter Watts).

Eleanor Fransch is sensational as Alice and hard to believe that this role is her professional debut. Eleanor sings, dances, cartwheels and acts her way through the role with aplomb. Making this role her own, it was fantastic to watch Alice’s journey of discovery and her desire to ‘get back home for tea’.

Peter Watts (The Great Blanco / White Rabbit) was fantastic in both his roles and whilst a seasoned performer, was his first role at New Vic and hope we see him back very soon. He was a huge presence on stage and (whilst not offering any spoilers) was excellent in performing his magic tricks as well as dashing about as the ‘very late’ White Rabbit.

Purvi Parmar (Red Queen) Victoria Brazier (White Queen) were excellent in the roles and their ‘sing-off’ was very entertaining. Jimmy Chambers and Angelina Chudi as Tweedledum and Tweedledee were great and captivated the bizarre and nonsensical pair. The Mad Hatter’s tea party was also fantastic with the hatter (Danielle Bird), the Mad March Hare (Matthew Ganley) and The Dormouse (Lucinda Freeburn) keeping the audience laughing and entertained within the chaotic gathering.

Without giving too much away, the appearances of both the Jabberwocky and Cheshire Cat (Stasha Dukic) were brilliantly choreographed and again added to the exceedingly high quality of this production.

Several of the cast perform the excellent musical score for the production, with violin, guitar, mandolin, cornet and flute just some of the instruments in use. Their inclusion is interwound within the story, whether passers-by in the marketplace or around the stage edge disguised as flowers.

The culmination of the show was also mesmerising and there were audible ‘Ooh’s’ and ‘Aah’s’ from the audience and befitted the collective performance which resulted in a standing ovation from several in attendance.

It will make you smile, laugh, gasp and applaud in equal measure, but New Vic certainly is Wonderland this festive period thanks to this Christmas cracker.

The production runs until the 28th January and tickets are on sale here

Photos courtesy of Andrew Billington