The twists and turns of the topsy-turvy world of
The performances by the ensemble cast are the highlight of this exciting production.
This telling of the story sees Alice as the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church college, Oxford and her friendship with author of the original novels Lewis Carroll, who was an Anglican Deacon and a member of the College. While there is controversy and mystery around allegations concerning Carroll and his untoward sexual activities, this production explores the worrying (and not all too unlikely) thoughts of ‘what if.’ We see Carroll turned into the White Rabbit and the other members of staff imagined as characters in the twisted world Alice calls her Wonderland.
Throughout the show the audience are led around the surprisingly expansive The Space @ North Bridge, the company having taken over the whole building to stage their late-night production. Our guides for the evening, two steampunk-styled puppeteers of Alice’s pet cat, take us through the the corridors of the venue to the various performance spaces. While the changes of location do not feel entirely necessary every time we are moved, the transitions are underscored by members of the ensemble skipping in amongst the moving crowd, foreshadowing scenes to come and breaking down the barriers between the characters and the audience.
The performances by the ensemble cast are the highlight of this exciting production. In such close proximity with the audience, the cast manage to maintain their characters with extreme conviction and dedication, never faltering under the strain of herding the audience around the building and into the nooks and crannies of the more difficult-to-navigate performance spaces. The large ensemble set-pieces at the tea party and the ball come to life with incredible intricacies, with each character contributing something individual but together creating a beautiful and absorbing visual feast.
Daniel Chrisostomou gives a riveting turn as Carroll and the White Rabbit; the sincerity and childish ease with which he plays with Alice in their fantasy world is incredibly endearing. You cannot help but warm to him, which makes for an incredible sense of gradually growing tension as the production hurtles towards its unravelling climax. Danny Brown’s performance as the Dean of the colleague also deserves special mention. With his incredibly sinister Wonderland alter-ego of the Caterpillar (complete with an extra set of arms) he is the perfect mix of controlling and unnerving.
The promenade nature of the production did at times feel a little unnecessary; the sheer size of the audience made some transitions feel clunky. However, this is only a footnote in the extremely brave act of bringing an immersive piece of theatre to a Fringe venue. The scale and effect of the ensemble work contrasted with the precise and moving performances of individual cast members, making this a unique piece of Fringe theatre.