BWW Reviews: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS at Stratford

BWW Reviews: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS at Stratford

Yes, Alice, there is another world on the other side of that mirror...and it's made for kids! In an effort to reach out to families and little children, Stratford is offering something to keep the attention of the 12 and under crowd. Big colourful costumes, zany situations and audience participation will make this a hit with the small set.

But while the Alice in the mirror looks exactly like the real Alice, there are many other Alices through the looking glass that are her opposite - they have dark hair, dark blue dresses, and some of those Alices are men!

This kid-friendly version of Alice Through the Looking Glass was created for the Stratford Festival by Londoner (Ontario, that is), the late James Reaney. He has cleaned up any of the darkness in Lewis Carroll's original stories.

The plot consists of Alice's series of adventures as she travels around the land on the other side of the mirror. Much of it mimics the chess set in her parlour back home.

Some of it will be very familiar - the poem Jabberwocky for example, and the explanation for the Happy Unbirthday celebrations

Pantomime-like, there is audience participation - members of the audience pull a giant tassel on a rope to make things happen. Streamers, bubbles and other party-like stuff fly over the audience. At once point we were showered with tiny packets of jelly beans. And of course, at the end there are streamers galore shot over the audience

Trish Lindstrom has nailed the childish actions of Alice. She is petulant about being sent to parlour and takes it out on Kitty, her stuffed cat. Then she is suitably awed and curious about her new adventures.

Stratford favourite Cynthia Dale is appropriately haughty as the Red Queen, while comedy is provided by Tweedledum and Tweedledee: Sanjay Talwar and Mike Nadajewski.

Act two opens with an impressive scene - Humpty Dumpty (Brian Tree) is sitting high atop his wall, with amazingly long arms, controlled by two of the dark haired Alices. As Humpty and his wall are rolled off stage, the audience hears a big bang-crash, and a gigantic raw egg goes splat on the stage. An army of Alices, wearing helmets that make them King's Men, scrape up the raw Humpty into frying pans. This scene may have lasted a bit too long, but I'm sure the clean-up crew will get faster as the summer progresses. Young and old alike in the audience laughed and groaned loudly at Humpty's demise.

This story book brought to life will certainly appeal to parents who want their children to enjoy theatre. In fact, the bright costumes, colourful set, and unusual props give the show a "Disney-fication" which will surely attract the young folks.

Alice Through the Looking Glass continues in repertoire until October 11 at the Avon Theatre, Stratford. Tickets are available at the Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check www.stratfordfestival.ca

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Mary Alderson Mary has been a fan of live theatre since her first visit to the Stratford Festival as a child, where she saw Christopher Walken and Louise Marleau in Romeo and Juliet. As a teenager, she had a summer job at the Grand Bend Tourist Information booth. Huron Country Playhouse founder James Murphy gave her free tickets to his inaugural season so she could promote it to visitors. She has a vivid memory of sitting in a tent on a folding chair, with her feet up on the seat in front of her, to avoid the rivulets of rain flowing through the mud and gravel towards the stage. Unfortunately, the productions that summer were less memorable, but have improved greatly over the years.

Mary holds a B.A. in Honours English and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario. After graduation, Mary was a reporter for the Exeter Times-Advocate and reviewed shows at Huron Country Playhouse. Many years later, in 2004, Mary returned to writing reviews and posting them on her blog at www.EntertainThisThought.com . She lives in Strathroy, Ontario, central to the Stratford Festival, London’s Grand Theatre, Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, the Blyth Festival and more. Mary is a member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association (www.canadiantheatrecritics.ca). By day, she works for the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, (www.ontcfdc.com ) where she sees first-hand how a professional theatre can be an asset to the economic development of a community.


 
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