by Tim Kane music and lyrics by Ben Glasstone.

Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN To 30 January 2011.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 December.

Superb visual invention makes the wonder here.
It may be as well not to know too much about Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, for Tim Kane’s, while clearly the same territory, treads its own pathways at times. It’s not just a matter of selectivity to make a manageable length show for 5+ audiences. For Kane’s script, and Peter O’Rourke’s production, have none of the anxious hurry shown throughout by the White Rabbit.

Which is wonderful when they create striking, often beautiful, images. Such as the opening, Alice lazing by a river-bank, floating off asleep as she watches a flower float downstream (Ben Glasstone’s gentle music and David Duffy’s willowy lighting enhancing the mood).

Then, with a child’s curiosity, Alice follows the Rabbit – its legs continually scurrying mid-air – through a hole. Pausing only briefly to lean against one of the tall Wonderland buildings (which sometimes dance around on animal legs) and wipe his brow – a lovely detail – he’s worried about being on time for the Queen.

What concerns Alice is how to enter the garden she discovers. Doors won’t fit the key she finds and eventually the one it does fit is the wrong size – the Alice puppet’s puzzled peering through this tiny aperture is another of those moments where a puppet-head seems to fix a human state more surely than a live actor.

But while Alice’s changes of size gain inventive fluidity in a shadow-play sequence, the business of the key to the garden-door is overlong, with its insipid song punning on ‘key’ first in music then in words. Far better are the scenes where visual invention’s let loose or where some, at least, of Carroll’s creatures appear.

Like the Cheshire cat peering round the side of the set, before suddenly showing its indelible grin as it hangs, with supreme feline complacency, in the air. Or the tall Queen, darting her body with threatening accusation at anyone who displeases her.

Playing cards decorate the set, though the theme’s not developed in the performance. Still, the skill, and delicate precision in the puppetry (with some fine singing too), making this a piece with memorable elements, if not the complete Alice.

Cast: Jonathan Storey, Mandy Travis, Michael Fowkes, Seoniad Goody.

Director/Designer: Peter O’Rourke.
Lighting: David Duffy.

2011-01-04 01:13:01

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