How can you review a show when you don’t get to see it all? Alice’s Adventures Underground is a production that takes you down the rabbit hole into wonderland to experience the true madness of a realm where the Queen of Hearts is in charge. Everything has lost its nonsense… and wonderland is desperate to get it back. What’s wrong with nonsense anyway? In order to get into character, you have to embrace the ridiculous, the absurd, the nonsensical… So, a nonsense review for this production is even more impactful for making no sense at all.
We go down, down, down… It gets curiouser and curiouser. But then we are the curiosities, so like a girl that everyone once knew but can’t remember. Until we integrate. We become one of them. Are we followers of the queen? Or are we a member of the Wonderland Underground Resistance Movement – the WURM’s are coming, ready to transform the land back to its former glory! I’m in the WURM club, that’s for sure. I drink and shrink, receive my orders as a fellow club to overthrow the red suits.
We’re all mad here! We Callooh Callay to the secret sign of the raven that is actually a butterfly hand signal… Is that a clue as to who our WURM leader is? Whoever they are, they must be a bit addled in the head to come up with such a topsy turvy plan – the Jabberwock? The Frabjous day? ‘Twas brillig, you know.
As we go through the underground maze in The Vaults, we come across the memory of a girl. She’s trapped in the mirror and can’t remember her own name; it’s so close and yet so far, just out of reach and at the fringes of her memory. Everything is hazy, a heady mix of smoke and incense. Maybe our leader is a smoker…
After we come across a plethora of oddities and wonderful strangers, we meet the mastermind at last to learn about the true history of wonderland. We get given our secret weapons – the Jabberwock responds to the sound of the vorpal horn. We reunite with the rest of the audience at a tea party without any tea. Everyone is equally discombobulated and it’s the mention of an unbirthday that oddly starts to make sense. We can always celebrate that on the day that it isn’t, but not on a day that it is. It’s obvious of course…
But not so fast, we are summoned to meet Her Majesty. Can we restore disorder or have we been thwarted by our fellow audience members, those that ate too much and grew too tall? In the end, all are one and the same, two sides of the mirror that is in fact the looking glass. We leave wonderland, a gorgeous world that Samuel Wyer’s design has majestically brought to life, and we want to go straight back in. Oliver Lansley and James Seager, the Les Enfants Terribles team, have concocted a masterpiece, the most exquisite slice of disorganised chaos that The Vaults has experienced. If only I could crawl down a rabbit hole and re-enter its infectious madness.
Director: Oliver Lansley; James Seager
Producer: Emma Brünjes for ebp; Oliver Lansley and James Seager for Les Enfants Terribles
Writer: Anthony Spargo
Composer: Tomas Gisby; Alexander Wolfe (Mock Turtle)
Design: Samuel Wyer; Max Humphries (puppet); Mike Gunning (lighting); Nina Dunn (video); Tomas Gisby (sound); Jessica Blackman (make-up)
Cast: Richard Booth; Farrell Cox; Dominic Creasey; Matthew Crouzieres; Jack Dorning; Emily Essery; Alex Gilbert; Mathew Hamper; Nicholas Hart; Philippa Hogg; Richard Holt; Lydia Hourihan; Sam Hoye; Michael Humphreys; Hayley Harland; Kojo Kamara; Max Krupski; Robert Lightfoot; Emma Maclennan; Jonathan Mathews; Miranda Menzies; Michele Moran; Alice Morgan Richards; Olivia Nakintu; Rhys Owen; Will Palmer; Alan Pearson; Zara Plessard; David Frias-Robles; Marah Stafford; Tom Syms; Kyle Taylor; Deborah Tracey; Meghan Treadway; Madwell Tyler; Marta Vella; Elizabeth Mary Williams; Alexander Wolfe; Hemi Yeroham
Alice’s Adventures Underground plays The Vaults until 23 September. For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website.
Images courtesy of Rah Petherbridge.