Alice Through the Looking Glass at St Paul’s Church
Adapted for the stage by Daniel Winter, Iris Theatre’s production of Alice Through the Looking Glass takes place in the rather grandiose setting of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. This ethereal landmark lends not only its architecture, but its outdoor space to this theatrical production that utilises immersive theatre along with audience interaction to create a truly wonderful interpretation of the Lewis Carroll classic.
Loved by generations, this renowned fairytale is notoriously difficult to tackle. This contemporary, musically-laced interpretation opens in the misty church hall with a grown up Alice – tormented, a shadow of her former Alice in Wonderland self. Her childlike alter-ego emerges from the looking glass and we are greeted by the brave protagonist we are so familiar with, to lead the audience through the looking glass, into the courtyard where the scene is set. We are in a game of chess, and ultimately Alice needs to defeat the “you know what…yes, the you know what!” It’s a joy to meet our favourite characters – Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum delight in typical ramshackle fashion, Humpty Dumpty is a hilarious spectacle. The second half is where Alice Through the Looking Glass really kicks off; the theatrics descend into a pantomime like experience but not to its detriment. Jos Vantyler (King Lear) plays the role of the evening as the Lion: camp, aloof and ostentatious. It’s adorable to watch the performers purposely slip from character occasionally, to the crowd’s delight. Dafydd Gwny Howells (Richard III) and Anne-Marie Piazza (Alcestis) revel in their multiple roles and are experts at character adaptation.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a whimsical, dream-like adventure, moving from location to location and scene to scene while environments morph before the audience’s eyes. Immersive theatre has grown in popularity recently: the industry learned lessons from the Punch Drunk company and their productions such as The Drowned Man. There’s value in interaction and immersive entertainment, and Alice Through the Looking Glass utilises this to perfection.
This marvellous production is successful for so many reasons: the spectacular backdrop of the church, the multiple environments embrace audience interaction, but most of all because the cast so obviously enjoy so much being a part of this fanciful though sometimes dark jaunt. Alice Through the Looking Glass closed with rapturous applause from the audience, this interactive game a sheer delight for kids and adults alike.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is at St Paul’s Church until 30th August 2014, for further information or to book visit here.