Student Workshop, Boilerhouse Theatre 18th-20th February 2013, Directed by Seona McClintock
After the success of Laura Wade’s ‘Posh’ in London last year, I had high hopes for her adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic. Wade’s modern version of the tale, set in Sheffield, follows a young girl who finds herself thrown into the extraordinary world of Wonderland as she comes to terms with the death of her older brother. Led by a dedicated production team, director Seona McClintock transformed the Boilerhouse Theatre into a world of talking animals and giant lollypops as we joined Alice on her journey.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this play was the plethora of characters recognisable from Carroll’s original work, played by a hugely talented cast. Antonia Draper’s strong lead performance as the troubled twelve year old Alice was supported by Daniel McTasney’s endearing White Rabbit. In a clever parallel with the real world, all the Wonderland characters also played Alice’s family members, and Daniel also played Alice’s older brother Joe. Here we see Wade altering the purpose of the original tale slightly; Alice’s search for the White Rabbit is a metaphor for her loss of Joe. This created a particularly poignant ending when she confronts the White Rabbit and he explains that one day she will be able to look back on the good times with her brother without feeling sad.
Throughout her journey, we encountered the comic genius of James Ireland’s Caterpillar as
Wonderland’s irate border control, Laura Cohen’s excellent dual performance as both the slightly demented Duchess and the suitably gloomy Mock Turtle, and David Rees showing his dark side playing both the Knave and the glamorous, creepy Cheshire Cat. Daniel Tremlett and Hannah Farley-Hills wowed the audience with their suitably bonkers performances as the Mad Hatter and March Hare. Poppy Abbott’s ferocious Queen of Hearts was paired perfectly with Jackson Reed-Fry’s regal King of Hearts, with both actors transforming back into Alice’s parents in the closing scene. The chorus of ‘Wonderlanders’ appeared in various forms singing and taking on smaller roles such as Jodie Davis’ sleepy Doormouse and Camilla Potter’s condescending Humpty Dumpty. Special mention must go to Katie Overstall as Tweedledum for her excellent ukulele playing, paired with Hollie McCarthy’s animated portrayal of Tweedledee.
All in all, this adaptation of ‘Alice’ was a joy to watch, with the imagination and creativity of the cast and crew shining through in a night of madness and mayhem.