a new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Laura Wade.
Crucible Theatre To 234 July 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & 14 July 2.30pm.
Audio-described 16, 22 July.
Captioned 17 July 2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 22 July.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0114 249 6000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 July.
A Wonderland of the mind.
Brand-new from its development at the National Theatre Studio, and very much an adaptation, Sheffield-born Laura Wade’s Alice turns Lewis Carroll’s centrepiece character from Victorian child to present-day 12-year old Sheffielder Alice Little. Snappy when she speaks, she’s mainly curled silently in an armchair at home, refusing help from people at the funeral of her 17-year old brother Joe, knocked down by a car while crossing the road.
Afraid to go out and locked-up in herself, her adventures after a White Rabbit pops-up from her chair before leaving her alone in a large empty room where she’s suddenly been transplanted (it is very much an adaptation), Alice is left with one key message – to go to the “heart”. Wantikng to return home, she follows any clue that might help.
Carroll’s absurdities are indulged less for their logical delights, those of a mathematician facing the impurities of verbal language, than for their part in a purgative process. Wade develops Alice’s understanding that life isn’t fair, in ways that can be Victorian – her friendly teacher transformed into a severely pedagogic Humpty-Dumpty seated judgmentally atop a huge chair, like a Dickensian managing-clerk.
Or which give a modern gloss to Carroll’s events. In Lyndsey Turner’s fluid, austere staging, designer Naomi Wilkinson reflects Wade’s focus on Alice’s immediate experiences rather than creating an external Wonderland. But the (green) carpet’s rolled-out for the croquet match, where Alice’s victory is assisted by a motorised hedgehog, while two commentators speak modern-style sporting inanities into their microphones.
A crazy onstage Wonderband quartet accompany the songs, assembling and dispersing among the shadows, while the trials of size-shifting door and table at the start lead to the formal trial where Graham O’Mara’s Knave skilfully perverts justice by subtle suggestion as he moves with a sinuous aggression to match the earlier secretive sinuousness of his tart-stealing.
Other striking performances include Graham Turner’s border-official, treating Alice as a potential terrorist, and Ruby Bentall as the girl herself. Angry and sulking in her bereavement, she shows resilience as the challenges of Wonderland push her on to discover her own heart, and sense of identity.
White Rabbit/Joe/Wonderband: Jack Beale.
Alice: Ruby Bentall.
Tweedledee/Commentator/Dan/Wonderband: John Biddle.
Tweedledum/Commentator/Tom/Wonderband: Oliver Birch.
Duchess/Mock Turtle/Auntie: Beatie Edney.
Queen/Mum: Pippa Haywood.
Humpty/Gryphon/Hare/Teacher: John Marquez.
King/Dad/Dormouse/Postman: Jonathan McGuinness.
Knave/Cheshire Cat/Cousin/Wonderband: Graham O’Mara.
Hatter/Caterpillar/Official/Len: Graham Turner.
Community Ensemble: Simon Atherton, Christine Baker, Nic Bowden, Ami Crofts, Jenny Derbyshire, Lizzie Frain, Mick Langan, Rob Myles, Andrew Raftery, Janice Sampson, Kate Spivey, Toby Steers.
Children’s Ensemble: Pippa Crossland, Mitchell Davidson, Lucy Dransfield, Molly Fitzackerley, James Hadabora, Annabelle Heppeler, Matthew Ledger, Alice Mackenzie, Katie Mills, Alana Poole/Rosie Evans, Jay Olpin, Chloe Poole, Christopher Samuels, Lottie Sequerra, Mia Soberry-Scott, Hannah Tang, Leah Tucci, Olivia Robinson, Christian Vernon.
Director: Lyndsey Turner.
Designer: Naomi Wilkinson.
Lighting: Chris Davey.
Sound: Christopher Shutt.
Movement: Aline David.
Assistant director: Dan Coleman.