"hilariously funny and oddly sinister"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 05/08/13

At St Pauls, the Actors Church in Covent Garden until 31st August
For those of us who have been brought up on Lewis Carroll it is wonderful to revisit Alice in the exquisite setting of the Actors’ church garden. These books may have been written for children, but the seeds planted in childhood can be so much better understood by grownups who can appreciate the comedy and word play that we as children just took for granted. The characters are mad, hilariously funny and oddly sinister – just as in a dream. Alice is desperately trying to find out who she is and seeks advice from the mad creatures who either evade the issue or give her rubbish advice.
The performances as in all of Iris productions are beyond fault and in this case, the company who performed the serious drama of Julius Caesar at the beginning of the season are letting their hair down with this wonderfully funny production – part Carroll, part Edward Lear, part pantomime and wholly Daniel Winder who was responsible for adapting and directing.
Some may complain that this is does not stick to the actual books and co opts items from elsewhere but for my money it doesn’t interfere and adds to the enjoyment of the evening.
You get the idea from the start as – after going down the rabbit hole – you emerge in the area of a circus tent where the cast are all performing absurd circus tricks. We are all asked to enter competitions like throwing balls into paper cups (but there are no prizes – unlike the comfits after the caucus race which come out of Alice’s apron pocket)
The Iris Company is run as a traditional rep company with actors who play serious roles in Julius Caesar can be seen again romping and rampaging and generally enjoying themselves in totally different guise in Alice in Wonderland. It is amazing to see heroic Brutus camping it up as an exuberant and brutally Scottish March Hare and an indomitable Queen of Hearts chopping off heads right left and centre. The lean and hungry Casca, Daniel Hanna reappears as the lean and hungry and ever doleful Mock Turtle as well as a bad tempered Duchess. Nick Howard Brown who played Cassius is the maddest of mad hatters, Simon Kent who played the soothsayer screaming about the ‘Ides of March’ is now the white rabbit, and the handsome, devious Mark Antony played by Matt Wilman gives us his pompous, aggressive Caterpillar and a dozy King of Hearts. The only female member of the cast is the lovely and vocally entrancing Laura Wickham who trebled in Julius Caesar as Portia, Calpurnia and Cinna the poet is allowed to play a single role as the Confused but courageous Alice. Michael Lynson joins the company to play mice, both house and dor.
All this happens in the sylvan settings of the Actors Church Garden which is rarely beautiful – and we have the fervent hope that enough money will be raised to save this incredible atmospheric piece of London from subsidence.

Other recent reviews by Aline Waites
Hamlet
it had me in tears by Aline Waites
Ricky Riddlegang and the Riddlegang
rip-roaring and extra jolly evening by Aline Waites
Amour
delight from start to finish by Aline Waites
The Milkman's on His Way
It's a masterpiece of organisation by Aline Waites
Miss Julie
stunning settings for the play by Aline Waites