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.
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
From This Author Mary Alderson