The new joint Brixton House and Poltergeist production of Alice in Wonderland is a blast.
Fans of the original story written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll will recognise the characters and narrative, but writer and director Jack Bradfield has completely reimagined and relocated that world. Instead of disappearing down a rabbit hole, 11 year old Alice jumps on a train in Brixton Underground and suddenly finds herself surrounded by weird and wonderful passengers speeding into nonsense in the grip of a very determined queen. The stage is set for a whirlwind ride of bizarre encounters and surreal conversations with a cast of characters from the wildest of dreams.
The story is told in today’s language with plenty of rapping and peppered with ingenious references to the underground system and the sights and sounds of Brixton. And the small cast, most of whom play multiple roles, bring a witty and inventive script to life with energy and joy. Music and dance add to the drama of this pacy and spirited production.
Much credit should also go to the designers. Imaginative lighting, sound and staging help create a constantly engaging visual experience and make sure the audience stays involved in the action. The entrance of the Queen on her site-specific throne and the prowling of the Jabberwocky are particularly fine examples of how to make a little go a long way.
There is much to enjoy in the antics of Alice, the Tweedles Dum and Dee, the Cat, Rabbit, Pigeon,Tortoise, and the Queen amongst others. But there is also a more serous undertone to this production. Amid the humour, mayhem and madness, there is a moral to the tale.
Alice eventually finds a way out of her nightmare, but only when she persuades the others to work collectively and collaboratively to combat tyranny and to confront injustice. There is also perhaps a small plea for all of us to leave our private smart phone worlds and adopt a more sociable approach to travelling on the the tube.
All in all, director Jack Bradfield, the creative team and the cast have done a great job in breathing new life into an old story. Originally written for children, this new version will appeal to all age groups. It is also a fine showcase for the state of the art theatre space right on our doorstep in Brixton House.
Go and see it if you can.
Alice in Wonderland runs until 31 December in Brixton House, 385 Coldharbour Lane SW9 8GL
Tickets from £12.50 for children, £20 for adults. Family ticket deals are available.
For further information go to www.Brixtonhouse.co.uk