"Alice Grows Curiouser and Curiouser"
by Stella Willow for remotegoat on 15/12/13

The minute you step into Polka’s glorious world there’s a hive of activity to feast a child’s delight. The play area, glass cases of exhibits and colourful café creatively compliment all current show’s themes. They offer a host of workshops too. It is so much more than just a theatre.

Rosamunde Hutt skilfully directs an imaginative and contemporary take on Lewis Caroll’s 1865 classic and rather dark and disturbing tale of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.

The English novelist’s (a.k.a. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) tale is awash with fantastical imaginings. The exploration begins with Alice mimicking voices for cardboard cut-outs in an attic with her estranged and judgemental sister, who progresses to play the Queen of Hearts, condemning her to execution.

Our present day Alice, twists herself round on a swing, descending deeper into her subconscious, and we the audience as judge and jury, observe her face her frustrations, as she gains courage to stand up for herself, in a world of characters who are just as strong and confused as she is. Freud and Jung would have a field day.

Ebony Feare gives a feisty, gutsy and fearless performance as Alice. Full of zeal she searches for solutions, solving conundrums and puzzling character traits, to decipher the ‘great question’ of who she really is. Feare displays joyful physical agility whilst shrinking and growing and her singing is hauntingly enigmatic, though at times I’d have liked to feel a little warmer towards her character.

Six strong cast members multitask their way through Carroll’s crazy characterisations, relying more on suggested physicalised attributes than costumed identifiable ones.
The true strength lies in the brilliance of the physical interpretation by Lawrence Evans and the weird and wonderful set design by Ti Green. Katie Lias’ inventive costume design would feel rightly at home gracing any Parisian fashion catwalk.

‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ is superbly adapted By Simon Reade, there’s an awful lot of story to fit in, perhaps a little long to hold the attention before an interval.

The complexity and weirdness of it all tends to keep you twinkling on the outer rims of confusion. It pushes you out rather than pulls you in. It teeters on the edge of insanity and confusion. The creative concepts are fantastic. It’s bold and inventive. The absurdity and creativity of its ideas suits the slightly older child audience.

In the height of merriment the song of the show ‘Will You Won’t You Join The Dance?’ drew the audience in, uplifting us, encouraging us to clap along in the true spirit of Christmas.

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