Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Linbury Studio Theatre
Will Todd’s charming opera comes to the Royal Opera House for the first time, after its Holland Park debut in 2013, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s iconic novel. This delightful opera was composed for both children and adults, and features an eclectic mix of jazz, musical and opera.
The adaptation, with music by Will Todd and libretto by Maggie Gottlieb, was originally staged for the outdoor venue, Opera Holland Park, but is beautifully transferred to the Linbury Studio Theatre. The intimate and modern venue is dressed as a faded, decorative postcard, and characters in flamboyant Victorian dress enthusiastically usher the audience in. The reimagining begins in a fictional place called Grimthorpe, where Alice notices a large, white rabbit in a cage at a pet shop. After releasing it she follows it down a rabbit hole where her adventures begin.
It is safe to say that most people would have read, seen, or at least heard of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with melancholy rabbits and mad hatters, to charming cats and jam tarts. The ubiquitous nature of Carroll’s classic story ensures that whoever adapts it has their work cut out for them. It was clear that this adaptation would have perfectly suited an outdoor venue to encapsulate the wonder and whimsy of Alice’s imagination, but it was unfortunately lacking in the indoor version due to some clumsy and awkward scene changes. However, the skilful instrumentation and clever lyrics stood out; the music varied from traditional West End to sheer Sondheim with a diverse range of dissonant sounds and lyrical harmonies to accompany the strange and wonderful words of Gottlieb’s libretto.
This blend complemented the peculiarity of the story, riddled with contrasting musical elements. The bass quality from the Caterpillar’s (Keel Watson) Wonderland Blues added a particularly pleasing rough and raspy jazz component. Fflur Wyn as Alice led the company flawlessly, portraying an innocent, wise and charming heroine. This clever adaptation is definitely a treat for children and adults alike.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is on at the Linbury Studio Theatre from 6th November until 7th November 2015, for further information or to book visit here.