Dates 9 - 30 April 2005 Venue Waterfront Theatre

Reviewer John Jane


 

 

 

 

 

Book by Roy Surrette; Music Lyrics by Sandra Head Based on the Alice sories by Lewis Carroll


Lewis Carroll was an amazing storyteller whose stories were created to be read, ideally aloud. Their outrageous characters and imaginative word-games have thrilled both children and adults for over a century.

Roy Surrette's script lifts chapters from Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass, compresses them and re-shuffles them into a whimsical series of sketches. Scenes cut from assemblages of familiar Alice icons such as the Mad Tea Party, the "Drink Me" bottle, and the Stolen Tarts Trial are all present in this production. The dialogue however, takes little from Carroll's clever singsong rhymes and at times appears to be improvised.

Director Carole Higgins adroitly preserves the essential thorniness of Carroll's characters without retrogressing them to cartoon figures. The performance starts with sisters Alice and Ina Liddell being entertained by Charles Dodson, presumably before taking the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Dodson indulges Alice's request for a story and the Alice adventures are born.


 

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Once inside Wonderland, Alice meets a cavalcade of strange creatures including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a white rabbit wearing jodhpurs and a pocket watch, and a sarcastic Cheshire cat whose grin, head and body are completely disconnected.

Twelve-year-old Claire Mortifee (niece of Vancouver singer Ann Mortifee) acquits herself well playing Alice. Aside from being on stage for almost the entire ninety minutes of the show, the role doesn't call for much beyond perplexed spunk, which she manages with seemingly little effort. She is the only player to use her natural voice.

Amy Wallis and Josh Epstein as Tweedledee and Tweedledum present the adult audience with an amusing anomaly. Are they sisters, brothers, brother and sister or "close" friends?

In the second half, Alice returns to Wonderland through a mirror and is soon drawn into conflict with a slightly gothic Queen of Hearts. Samantha Madely is uproarious as the Queen leading the company in the song "Off with Her Head!" She is just as funny in her first half role as the belligerent talking violet.

More a revue than a musical adaptation, Alice: A Wonderland is a campy, well-performed affair is sure to please younger audiences throughout its three-week run.

2005 John Jane

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