ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – St Paul’s Church, London.
We are invited to become a part of the surreal adventure with Alice & co in Daniel Winder’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s story Alice Through the Looking Glass; which rather than sinking into the depths of many clichéd and stagnant versions, we are catapulted to another world with beautiful surroundings.
Guided from the courtyard, into St Paul’s Church and out into the wonderfully decorated garden, we are transported to each magical location, defined by a cast of enthusiastic and highly talented performers from Iris Theatre who showcase their versatility and energy from beginning to end. Each actor plays numerous characters – each with a prominent role in sustaining the slick and controlled ambiance with impressively quick costume changes which allows each scene to flow organically into each other. The particularly enjoyable Tweedledee and Tweedledum scene (played by Dafydd Gwyn Howells and Nick Howard-Brown) has the audience in fits of laughter with their cheeky, camp and ludicrous conversations, alongside farcical acknowledgements of the audience and playful songs. Thankfully the musical score does not overpower the narration in any way and is a handy tool when moving the audience from one location to another, as this does take a bit of time, (proving difficult for people with mobility issues) and holds our excitement for the next encounter.
As a family performance there are occasions when the dialogue feels a little wordy for smaller members of the audience to understand, however the absurdity and vibrancy of the piece maintains their focus almost entirely for the fairly lengthy two hours. In addition, the comical timing of the actors is second to none – there is a scene with the Lion which is so bizarrely hilarious, he is almost competing for a stand alone show. Although it must be said that audience interaction seems somewhat erratic and perhaps a little forced at certain points when it is not necessary to enhance a performance that works so well without it.
The finale, whilst grand and an exciting immersive climax, also resembles a scene from The Exorcist and I wouldn’t be surprised if some children find it a touch frightening. However don’t let this put you off, as providing the weather plays ball Alice Through the Looking Glass is a sweet summer treat that is too good to miss. Never underestimate the power of promenade theatre within a summer setting.
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By Natalie Green
30th July – 30th August 2014
St Paul’s Church, London, WC2E.