Alice's tale bears a terrific Forbidden fruit

Review by Paul Nelson


A SURPRISING pre-Christmas delight awaits anyone who wanders into the Wimbledon Studio Theatre to see Forbidden Theatre Company's production of Alice in Wonderland.

This is no ordinary Alice. It hits the audience on three different levels.

Whilst it appeals to the smaller members of the audience, costumes, storytelling, songs etc., it also appeals to the older and more intelligent youngster, even to quite late teens I would have thought.

On the third level, it appeals to adults as a genuinely different approach to telling the old and familiar story.

At the beginning of the play, Alice is about to marry on the morrow. She is filled with premarital fears, and her mother takes charge and as she comforts and encourages her daughter, sings her to sleep whilst Alice is cuddling her childhood toy, a rabbit.

From then on the Lewis Carroll story unfolds as you would expect but with a fantastic speed and a dazzling change of costumes by the very small cast (six of 'em), who, apart from Louise Doherty (Alice), each takes on from four to seven roles as well as a whole pack of cards.

The result is so entertaining and unique as to be one of the most remarkable versions of the book I have ever seen.

The cast all have lightning costume changes and also switch the set around without any irritation and the result is kaleidoscopic and thoroughly entertaining.

Georgia Bance (adapter and director), Pilar Orti (co-adapter) and Craig Adams (composer and Musical Director) can well congratulate themselves. The book is tight and comprehensive. The songs are bright and individual, and it is not every day I can say that, nor is it every day that I can commend an entire cast on the way they put the songs across, whether an individual number or an ensemble. The direction is taut and sure with such a mass of originality that it makes you marvel at Georgia Bance's expertise.

One really lovely touch when the dream is over and the next morning arrives, as Alice is to get ready for her wedding, a pack of cards falls from the folds of her wedding dress. Was it a dream?

It runs at Wimbledon Studio Theatre at 7.30pm until December 22 (not Sunday). What a splendid antidote to mindless entertainment.

Alice in Wonderland adapted by Pilar Orti and Georgia Bunce from the book by Lewis Carroll. Directed by Georgia Bunce. Costume and Set Design Kate McDermott, Lighting Design Tracey Hammill, Composer and Musical Director Craig Adams, Movement Director Phillip Hoffman. Presented by Forbidden Theatre Company at Wimbledon Studio Theatre. 020 8540 0362.
With Louise Doherty (Alice), Tom Lyall (Rabbit, Dodo, Caterpillar, Duchess), Emma Christer (Crab, Frog, March Hare, Queen of Hearts), Pilar Orti (Table, Cheshire Cat, Dormouse, Gryphon, Knave of Hearts), Richard Mann (Door, Pat, Fish, King of Hearts, Mouse), Sharon Morwood (Alice's Mother, Duck, Cook, Hatter, Executioner, Mock Turtle). Movement Director Phillip Hoffman