ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Cox’s Yard, Stratford upon Avon, Wednesday 4th August, 2021
This year’s summer show from Stratford-based company, Tread The Boards is an exuberant adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense classic. All the highlights you expect are here, and the cast of just six work hard to populate the stage with the well-known characters. Being an outdoors show, technical elements are limited, but director John-Robert Partridge makes a virtue of this, relying on the physicality of the actors to get across the fantastical elements of the story. Moments like Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole and an underwater sequence are superbly handled by the ensemble. There is a dance-like quality to their movements, even if they’re just shifting scenery. Also tackled extremely well are the changes in Alice’s size as she eats and drinks various things that shrink or extend her. It’s clever stuff that engages our imagination to make the effect work. Certainly the children in the audience are engaged and on board. This is where the true ‘wonderland’ is to be found.
Each cast member plays several parts but they each get their stand-out moments. Pete Meredith’s Playing Card Gardener, for example, and his Mad Hatter, aided and abetted by Julia Holland’s March Hare. Holland teams up with Lucy Edwards as Tweedledee and Tweedledum to give a spirited rendition of The Walrus and the Carpenter. Edwards also makes for a fun Cheshire Cat. Danny Teitge is a likeable and quirky White Rabbit, establishing a rapport with the younger members of the audience, and is especially good as the speaking end of the Caterpillar. Director John-Robert Partridge practices what he preaches in a couple of featured roles. His Mock Turtle has a showstopping number about soup, and chiefly, his Queen of Hearts is deliciously camp and tyrannical—I trust this is not indicative of his directorial style!
As Alice, Hannah Whitehouse hardly leaves the stage, capturing the fun and earnestness of the role, Alice’s forthright, logical approach to a world that makes little sense, trying to reason her way through this cavalcade of crazy characters. The focus of the action, Whitehouse is an appealing and expressive presence.
The sound design is by Elliott Wallis, and it includes some of his original compositions, adding to the charm of this enchanting and imaginative production.
The show is touring until September to a range of venues across the region. You can book tickets by clicking HERE.