ALICE IN WONDERLAND
adapted by Mary Swan from the books by Lewis Carroll.
The Stables Stockwell Lane Wavendon MK17 8LU To 4 January 2014
26-30 Dec, 2-4 Jan. 1.30pm & 5pm
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
then Tour to 19 January 2014.
TICKETS: 01908 280800.
www.stables.org (Milton Keynes tickets)
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 December.
Adaptation that fitfully lives up to its source.
Last year Basingstoke-based Proteus Theatre spent the Christmas period at the Stables during a winter tour with their pleasant, visually inventive adaptation of The Secret Garden. This year, they’re back with an Alice in Wonderland, again adapted by their Artistic Director, an experienced writer of plays for the young, Mary Swan.
A charming programme cover shows a wooded Wonderland with several locals, bedecked in playing-cards, standing on an opened book. The point about books as an opening to the Wonderland of imaginations – the reader’s and writer’s – is echoed in a speech near the end. It’s a serious speech, but one that makes its point among the antics and laughs all around.
But this is largely spoiled by what’s either a loss of nerve or conflict of intentions in a piece that is both credited to Swan as the adaptor, and director, yet also described as “devised by the company”.
Well, which is it? Because something doesn’t add up. Which is not irrelevant with a book by a Maths professor. However anarchic Lewis Carroll’s story seems, it is a pillar of logic set against unthinking daily talk and behaviour.
Numbers and words always relate to each other with a spine of logic, even if it’s as part of a life which grows curiouser and curioser the closer it’s examined, and where – in one bit that does make it to this version – it’s possible to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
The opening makes an intriguing variation on Carroll’s. Alice is sent to recapture the family’s pet white rabbit, whose absence has just ruined her big sister’s magic act in a talent contest. It explains the fearsome Red Queen as Alice’s sister seeing red at her ruined act, and the inanely chatty MC reappearing as the Mad-Hatter presiding over his tea-party.
There’s an impressive Cheshire Cat, a huge creature gradually rising full-length into sight and curling self-importantly as its head and body fragments seem suspended by sustained music.
Elsewhere there’s far too much running, screaming or fighting, poorly choreographed and sometimes downright amateurish, some execrable singing and a lack of any point.
Mad-Hatter/Card Number 10/Tweedledum: Nick Ash.
White Rabbit/Card Number 6/Tweedledee/Cheshire Cat/White Queen/Duchess: Helen Crevel.
March Hare/Mock Turtle/Card Number 2/Caterpillar: Yanick Ghanty.
Red Queen/Charlotte/Cook: Becky Kitter.
Alice: Charlie Thomas-Chandler.
Director: Mary Swan.
Designer: Sam Pine.
Lighting: Chris Poynter.
Music: Paul Wild.
Assistant director: Umar Ahmed.