Writer: Daniel Winder
Director: Jamie Jackson
Reviewer: Cavelle Leigh
Alice Through The Looking Glass, is here presented by Iris Theatre at the delightful and fitting St Paul’s Actors Church in Theatreland itself, Covent Garden. It begins inside the church, eerily watching Alice as an oldwoman, haunted by theJabberwo…Onemeans the ‘Whatsitsname?’
Slightly frightening for a family audience, it transports us through the Looking Glass to a wonderful world where Alice (child like Laura Wickham) seeks to save her older self, and encounters an array ofcolourful characterson route.
It begins on a giantchess board, possibly the weakest scene only because the elongated ‘stage’ was less than ideal for both sight and sound.
Afterwards the audience is taken to the RoseGardenwhereAliceencountersflowers far fairer than her. Kudos hereto the wonderfully camp and positively hilarious Jos Vantyler. A child is beckoned on stage shortly afterwards to join in, in frantically running on the spot, tohelpAlice move furtherandfaster inher quest. This audience participation, a theatrical trend of late, occurs throughout and when children participate, is ajoytowatch.
Then we are transported to a magical wood, where Alice encounters a giant Mosquito (sensitively played by Anne-Marie Piazza). A children’s tale or not, one is confronted with heintelligentwork of LewisCarollwho questions the preconceived ideas of anything based purely on its name. Piazza is beguiling as the said Mosquito. Alice then assists the Queen (accomplished Valerie Cutko), who does everything back tofront,in dressing herself. Quite funny is when she writhes in agonyoverthe finger she is yet to cut.
Latterly the cast of eccentricity can be found bobbing in the sea, to then be joined by the Mad Hatter who sails in convincingly. A delightful tune (and one sidedwaterfight) takes one to the interval though who could wait to return.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, and true to form, he took a great fall. Dafydd Gwyn Howells isa pompous yet rather inarticulate egghead.The audience joins in singing the rhyme ofHumptyDumpty,the adults more versed in it than the children…
One then gets to witness the evenings best, the duel between unicorn and lion. As the lion,Vantyler hadone laughing until they cried. Brilliant, for want of a more original word, is all.
TweedleDum andTweedleDee (Nick Howard-Brown and again Howells) played dumb to perfection, though the lisp may offend. Cutko is an embittered yet generous wasp, while likeable Leo Elso as a horse fly is something of an amateur when it comes to riding.
Sadly it has to end, and it does with the younger and older Alice reconciled and happily singing in the church.Becauseof its dark undertones one can see the purpose of the song for children, but as an adult, that and the strobe lighting, seemed to undermine an otherwise intelligent and superbly acted production, old fashioned and old, like the novel, harking back to a time of innocence and wonderment, perhaps lost today. Best not mention Carroll’s own inspiration, an opium inducedhigh. Credit must be given too to the set and costume designers Alex Stevenson, Florence Meredith, and Maddy Ross-Mason for gorgeous visuals. The hustle and bustle of Covent Garden oft competed with the sound but that cant be helped in an open air production, and is certainly compensated elsewhere. An ambitious and immersive production by an undoubtedly talented team, Alice Through The Looking Glass has to be seen.
Photo: Hannah Barton