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  • Alex First

Alice in Wonderland at Athenaeum Theatre - 60 minutes

Nonsense, fiddle-faddle and poppycock is the essence of Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic Alice in Wonderland.


Now writer and director Penny Farrow has sourced characters, dialogue and poems from several sources to bring the adventure to life.


These include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, The Hunting of Snark and Rhyme? And Reason? (a collection of Carroll’s poems).


The show is a celebration of imagination and creativity through humour and silly language.

It is the story of a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world of anthropomorphic creatures.


As the production appropriately asks, is it a dream?


Regardless, the narrative takes Alice and us, the audience, on a wild ride when the heroine encounters the white rabbit and the mad hatter.


That is not to overlook the Cheshire cat, the caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the dormouse, the March hare and the Queen of hearts.

The tale unfolds with a surfeit of colourful and inventive costuming and puppetry.


The gorgeous costumes are the work of Gayle MacGregor and Diana Eden, while Chris Barlow and Deiter Barry have done an excellent job in crafting the puppets.


The engaging set and mood lighting set the tone.


Familiarity with the source material is a decided advantage when seeing this production.


The character that undoubtedly brings the biggest laughs is the preposterous Queen (played by Simon Burvell-Holmes, who doubles as the Cheshire cat’s handler).

Burvell-Holmes has a star turn in one of the pivotal roles and plays that up for all it is worth – excess being his stock in trade.


It goes down wonderfully well, even when yelling “off with his head”, which he does frequently.


With such an over-the-top storyline, I would have liked to have seen even more humour resonating throughout the play.


Even though it is pitched at a family audience, I am not convinced those under seven or eight will get enough out of it. Perhaps older youngsters will.

If unbridled absurdity is a drawcard, you too may enjoy Alice in Wonderland, which is on at Athenaeum Theatre until 8th January, 2023.

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