This adaptation of Alice in Wonderland is definitely recognisable from the well-known book and countless film adaptations. If there was one word to use to differentiate this Alice from any other, it would be “contemporary”. Everything from the costumes to the choreography is incredibly modern. This 45-minute musical takes Alice from her own bedroom into the wacky Wonderland, where nothing is as it seems. In Wonderland, cats can talk and dodos can dance; it’s a bizarre world that is both fantastic and scary and it all begins with a small bite of cake. If there is two things that no one can refuse, it’s curiosity and cake.
A brilliantly selected and all-round talented cast makes the entire performance so enjoyable that it is a shame that the show is so short. Hannah Toy, who plays Alice, is a beautiful dancer and a great singer. It isn’t entirely clear whether this Alice is a child, or how she suddenly moved from her bedroom to Wonderland, but she is exactly how Alice is often imagined – in her iconic blue dress – and is a very entertaining performer to watch. Mateo Oxley plays a very sensual Cheshire Cat, performing everything with the most graceful and feline movements. His use of the entire auditorium adds to the mystery that often surrounds this character.
Dougie Carter plays the nutty Mad Hatter and, along with the Hare and Mouse, creates a surreal tea party with a pretty impressive table. The French, grumpy mouse (played by Ceris Hine) is incredibly amusing with some of the funniest lines. The inquisitive Caterpillar (Jamie Coleman) resembles a hippie and it seems that those aren’t just ordinary cigarettes he’s smoking. Kerry Enright makes an extremely fierce Queen of Hearts and has very strong vocals. In fact she is more or less queen of everything she does in this show: she’s funny, has a sensational voice and her sarcastic comic timing is flawless.
Although there isn’t a set per se, the use of a shadow projection as Alice’s mother is very well done and perfectly illustrates the way that Alice views her own mother. The costumes are interestingly designed with modern twists – this variation on Alice’s dress is perfectly fitting for a show brought into the twenty-first century. The songs don’t particularly add anything to the show as the lyrics are too simple, but it is evident that there is a lot of promise for them.
This is a creatively original show and so enjoyable to watch – it’s the perfect lunchtime entertainment.
Alice: A New Musical is playing at St James Theatre until 21 March 2015. For more information and tickets, see the St James Theatre website. Photo by Darren Bell.