Alice in Wonderland: A New Adaptation for the Trinity Lawns Play"

Wed 29th May – Sat 1st June 2013

reviews

Sophie Baggott

at 09:57 on 30th May 2013

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Drop everything and book a ticket now: Trinity’s Wonderland is an absolutely ‘must-visit’ destination. I feel like no review could quite do the whole thing justice - madness reigns from the moment of arrival and the acting is out of this world. Michael Roderick had us in hysterics with his addictively funny Mad Hatter, as did Fred Ellis as the twitchy March Hare. The show was moved inside - British weather, need I elaborate? - but it didn’t seem to detract from the performance whatsoever. In fact, it almost intensified the all-consuming mayhem, especially with the ceiling’s concentric circles overhanging us. The actors stayed in character at all times, and an entertaining conversation with the Mad Hatter as we took our seats was a taste of things to come. Teapots of chocolate, custard creams, and continuously-refilled cups of tea heightened the experience.

We, the audience, were pulled right in from the beginning. Dinah the histrionic cat (Sara Ahmed) opened the show with a shriek before proceeding to interact with the front row as guests at Alice’s social debut. The musical accompaniment from the band really lit the atmosphere, and as we stood for the Liddells’ entrance I knew we were in for a treat. Lucy Rands as Mrs Liddell and the Queen of Hearts also deserves acclaim - her vocal acrobatics and facial expressions commanded our attention from her first appearance.

Some scenes were ludicrously good. The umbrella-punting was a marvel to behold, and the never-ending wittiness of the script particularly shone at this point. The way that the actors darted around, through, and in front of the audience lent dynamic to the charged performance. Scene transitions were effective, sometimes jerky and unforeseeable, and freeze-frames were put to striking use throughout the play. I loved the meta-theatrical aspect - at one point Dinah conversed with Charles Dodgson (George Ferguson) about casting and rehearsals. The stunning outfits and props collaborated with the actors in creating this extraordinary world - kudos to Emily Dixon and Izzy Savage.

Whilst there was a lot of utterly engaging nonsense, bigger themes did surface at times: identity, beliefs, and familial relationships were all there. In the last scene the characters ‘flash-backed’ elements from the earlier script in a mesmerising amalgamation of the preceding scenes. The play’s structure collapsed; the surreality at a high. We were clapping, cheering, and whistling long after the bows were taken: there was no doubt that a brilliant time was had by every one of us. Of all the plays I have seen in Oxford, I have never enjoyed one quite as much as this - this Alice in Wonderland adaptation is less ‘seen’, and more ‘lived’ for one chaotic evening. My first five-star review, and truly deserving of it.

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