Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Opera Holland Park
It is highly likely that most people will have read, heard of, or at least seen Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and it’s a story that continues to engage adults and children all over the world, 150 years after its creation. There comes a point in the lives of most where they sometimes feel like Alice, surrounded by strange and magical people who do bizarre, interesting, and sometimes disproportionate things.
Set outside, in the statuesque grounds of Holland Park, this reimagining of the story begins in a place called Grimthorpe, with an ordinary family on an ordinary day out. Suddenly Alice notices they are standing next to a pet shop with a large white rabbit in a cage. She lets it out, following it as it runs off down a hole and into Wonderland.
Directed by Martin Duncan, it’s an interactive show with four separate sets. Children follow Alice all over the garden, with each set providing the backdrop for new characters and stories. As she goes further into the kingdom, she comes across a relaxed caterpillar, a happy cat, a depressed hare, a white knight and many more talking creatures. However, pretty soon she realises that a danger lurks in the shadows, and the Queen of Hearts comes bustling through the trees, commanding “off with their heads”. Alice doesn’t believe it, and soon has her begging for mercy.
The Queen, played by Robert Burt, is compelling and entrancing. Maud Miller as the Duchess and the Bottle is funny, a believable, innocent singleton, led by the heart to find a boyfriend whose name she can’t remember. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are fantastically weird, and Alice (Fflur Wyn) is likeable, though a little quiet: sometimes it’s hard to hear her at the back. The music by Will Todd and Maggie Gottlieb is catchy, fluid and melodious – a live orchestra moves from set to set.
This is a must-see for small children, and quite nice for adults too, reminding everyone that the truth isn’t definitively facile.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is on at Opera Holland Park from 22nd July until 1st August, for further information or to book visit here.