Alice in Wonderland
26 November – 31st December
Whether frolicking with one’s family this season, or wanting to spoil yourself if the wee flutterlings are elsewhere, in absentia, the Lyceum’s Alice in Wonderland is a true jewel. This kafkaesque pantomime is a metaphorical glass of bubbly in the middle of the Christmas heave-a-thon, & Lewis Carroll would be like, ‘how the hell did they pull that off,‘ by which I mean the stagecraft conjured by director Anthony Neilson & designer, Francis O’Connor, was quite marvelous, an all-immersive, slightly surreal, costume-clever journey worth the ticket alone.
Performance-wise, all the cast are on top form – they all looked like they were having a ball. Jess Peet makes her debut with a stylish sincerity which belies her years, her commanding stances & mellifluous speeches carving an Alice to remember. Around her, in the multi-tasking ensemble, start-turns abound; Zoe Hunter’s Hookah-puffing Caterpillar & Tam Dean Burn’s Hatter among them. For me, Alan Francis’ Duchess was sublimely entertaining, & I found myself flashbacking to when I went to the pantomime as a child with my gran’s ‘works’ – pure unadulterated childhood joy in a man of 40 years. There was also music, the occasional short set-piece interlude interspersed through the action which worked perfectly.
I’d taken the wife, by the way, & the kids, & all four of us left the Lyceum in the finest of fine spirits. Our seven-year old had giggled through 30 percent of Alice & stared boggle-eyed in wonder at the rest. The wife, who likes the theatre but doesn’t adore it, told me in no uncertain terms that that she’d hardly spare a thought for a seeing a play a second time, but with Alice she would definitely go back. The story of course, is a simple one, & it is not for the story I expect – but what the Lyceum have done with it is wondrous.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen