A group of London’s keenest bloggers and theatre writers were invited by RAW PR to a post-show exclusive event for Alice’s Adventures Underground. I was fortunate enough to attend this magical world and see how a group of manic geniuses conjured up such a piece of nonsensical perfection.
It first transformed the underground world of The Vaults in 2015, where it played to over 100,000 visitors and earned itself an Olivier Award nomination for Best Entertainment and Family show. Now Alice’s Adventures Underground is back, bigger and better than ever. Originally devised in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel, the award-winning partnership of Les Enfants Terribles and ebp joins forces once again to bring this multi-sensory, immersive experience back to London.
To help celebrate a triumphant return, PR Agency RAW PR invited a group of bloggers and media to attend a special post-show event to meet some of the cast and creatives behind this magical wonderland.
Before the event drinks, courtesy of Smith and Sinclair, were in full flow and the food, courtesy of Saucy Chip, was plentiful. A particular highlight were the Cheshire Katsu Veggie Curry Chips, a big kick of energy before tackling the Queen of Hearts in her domain. Washing this down with Just Half A Cup Of Tea, a gin and Early Grey cocktail complete with popping candy, set me up to go tumbling down the rabbit hole.
As for the show itself, it’s best to read my website for the Alice’s Adventures Underground nonsense review. What I can say though, is this is a show you want to go back and enjoy again and again. Les Enfants Terribles has outdone themselves with this second incarnation of a stylish, slick and skillfully realised immersive world.
After the show, the guests were allowed back in to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for a post-performance drink and debrief from cast and crew alike. Finally we got to see the newly freed Alice unwinding with a beer, the Queen of Hearts (Zara Plessard for this performance) let loose and relax and The Mock Turtle (performed and composed by Alexander Wolfe) out of water and on dry land.
I caught up with producer Emma Brünjes to see what she thought of the Alice’s Adevntures Underground take 2:
Do you see the difference between the two shows?
Enormously – after the last time, James Seager, Oliver Lansley [of Les Enfants Terribles] and I went to debrief the show, which got nominated for The Stage Award for Innovation, a posh way to me of saying it was really fucking challenging!
It’s taken blood, sweat and tears. We had to raise a whole lot of money twice round – the first time round it was even harder! At that point, I’d been a commercial producer for less than two years and the boys had been on the fringe for 15 years which is a different world.
We changed the show every day last time during preview, but now we’ve got an amazing team, we know exactly what we’re doing and I see the changes enormously. We’ve got the narrative tighter, it’s much slicker and more detailed.
The whole case is stronger, they’re all actors now. There’s things I now talk about anecdotally, which I never thought I would do! Things like two days before our press night last time we rewrote the show in a cafe over the show. Then on press night we had a power cut and stopped the show for forty minutes and I ended up getting on stage and evacuating the site. I thought that was it, game over, I’ve put Lyn Gardner in a corridor with an actor improvising for forty minutes… Now it’s one of those stories that you can get away with saying, but press night this time round was stressful too! It’s been a training ground.
I was so pleased when the Olivier awards gave us the nod – it shows that this kind of word should be seen.
It’s a huge number of performances too that happen – six shows a night, 12 during the day at weekend. The actors too are really put through their paces.
We employ 46 actors (including our kid’s show company) too. It’s an amazing company of people and everyone is so supportive, but so has the industry because they’ve come behind us. What’s fascinating now is that none of us have been immersive theatre producers before and now I get phone calls about it all the time!
As a producer, I’m incredibly proud of our business model too. When Oliver and James came to me with the idea I knew it was fantastic, but the numbers weren’t going to work. So, I personally take great satisfaction in taking that and turning it into this – my GCSE Maths teacher would have a heart attack now! I can do macros on Excel, I got my accountant to teach me!
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, Tristam Kenton, Jason Joyce.