Adventures in Wonderland
Thirty-two individually designed sets (by Samuel Wyer and a specially selected team) are among the many things that makes this immersing, extraordinarily realistic piece of theatre one of the best children’s shows for some time.
Alice herself (Josephine Rattigan) is a somewhat superfluous figure, appearing only in the last scene. This doesn’t matter though because every member of the audience is, in effect, Alice, exploring Wonderland. We move through narrow tunnels and passageways into strange, elaborate spaces enhanced by gauze, smoke, projections, mysterious lighting and much more.
We come across familiar characters such as the White Rabbit, the Red Queen (a splendid cameo by Philip Bosworth in Miss Trunchbull mode) and Tweedledum and Tweedledee, all of whom are impeccably and entertainingly acted with a certain amount of interaction because some of the spaces are quite small. Dan Gingell’s illuminated, snarling, simpering Cheshire cat puppet is near genius too.
The real highlight, though, is the Mad Hatter’s tea party, cleverly scripted to include references to other parts of the story. The table is huge and elaborate like a quirky baronial banquet. Piers Wehner strides up and down the table teasing the audience, operating and voicing a delightfully silly dormouse puppet before passing round real jam tarts. His performance is a joy to watch. Even in a show as good as this he stands out.