A brilliantly bonkers Alice In Wonderland
It's late, it's late… but better late than never! South Hill Park's, bright and bold Alice in Wonderland has finally opened. Disappear down a rabbit hole and get the Muddy verdict.
Wow! It’s been a while since I last parked by tush on a red velvet theatre seat – and I was definitely channelling my inner White Rabbit as I was ‘late, very very late’, all thanks to a new road layout in Bracknell, but I won’t bore you with the details. The Red Queen was frumious. Apologies Ma’am.
But boy, was it good to back in a theatre – albeit to small audiences of socially-distanced mask wearers, not that the cast seemed to care. They looked absolutely thrilled to be on the stage after months twiddling their thumbs. The production was postponed from 2020 due to Covid, so I guess lateness is an ongoing theme for us all.
Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland needs no introduction.South Hill Park’s musical adaptation is set in 1940, we meet Alice Hargreaves and her dad as London is being bombed and the little girl (who is away with the fairies a lot of the time) stumbles across the curious White Rabbit encouraging her to follow him down a rabbit hole. Obvs she jumps in with both feet and meets all the bonkers characters along the way.
The show is bursting with creativity. To mimic Alice’s changing size after drinking the ‘drink me’ magic potion and ‘eat me’ cake, director Rosie Hill uses not one but three Alices – Holly Matthews-Eve (small) Daisy Ewin (medium) and Amber Weston (large). On stage together they look like a stack of Russian Dolls. It’s clever and you have to look twice to notice the switch. All have superb singing voices, but Amber’s has the vocal power of a West End star. She really is incredible.
There’s always a scene stealer, and on this occasion is was from not one but two performers – Keir Buist and Michael Ayiotis who play Tweedledum and Tweedledee were mesmerising with their magic trick and brilliant physical comedy. To be honest, they had me with their wardrobe which looked like it had been borrowed from hip hop group Outkast’s with their golfing vests, shorts and knee-socks. I loved everything about what they did – the energy, the comedy, the stage presence. Nailed it!
The wild-eyed Mad Hatter (Sam Gillett) is worthy of a mention, there was a touch of Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka in his performance which was fun to watch. The ensemble cast’s voices were superb (in fact, I’m still scratching my head as to whether there was a backing track), the costumes were bright and bold from the Red Queen’s Jessica Rabbit sequin dress and Caterpillar’s pimped up sleeping bag to the nattily dressed animals and tabard wearing Card Soldiers. The Knave (Leo Burke) could have been more menacing, but I suspect it was down to first night nerves.
South Hill Park’s award-winning stage designer Victoria Spearing did an amazing job with the sets – as ever. There’s always a slightly cinematic magic to their vision that convinces audiences every step of the way.
This is a fantastic production of Alice in Wonderland – a celebration of individuality, quirks and that we’re all a bit mad really. So disappear down South Hill Park’s rabbit hole and book in. Tickets are available until 6 Jun.