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The Maddest Tea Party in Brisbane

The Maddest Tea Party in Brisbane

Everyone knows the tale of Alice in Wonderland; of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy, nonsensical world filled with mad creatures, so to speak. Each year features new adaptations by a plethora of theatre companies, both independent and commercial, and each adaptation transforms the story to accentuate a different part of the narrative or reading that you probably wouldn't have thought of before. Although it didn't offer us a new perspective on the story, Penny Farrow's Alice in Wonderland gave birth to Carroll's world spectacularly and in an array of exuberant colours, leaving the audience in a world which they did not want to leave.

From the minute you walk into the auditorium, it's clear that this production had no budget, or if it did, then it was pretty large sum. Zachary Lieberman's pays homage to Carroll's world perfectly, but not only having the titular drawing of The Cheshire Cat talking to Alice from a branch up above, but with the colourful toadstools, checkered tiles and the exotic Wonderland flora forming a physical border around the story. The costume designers (Diana Eden, Louisa Bannah and Gayle MacGregor) have done an outstanding job at quite literally, bringing Lewis's illustrations to life from the Mad Hatters top hat to the Queen's deck of Cards. Their colour palettes highlight each character's personality and their uniqueness; apart from Alice's wig which showed actor Georgia Walker's roots and thus, looked quite tacky on her head. Deiter Barry's puppet design of the White Rabbit was very impressive, which mirrored the one I'd conjured up in my imagination as well as the petite Dormouse and The Cheshire Cat. Jeremy Dehn's lighting design was spectacular; a highlight being the colours in the scene in which Cards attacked Alice, the eerie blue light at the open and the close of the piece and the iconic mischievous grin of The Cheshire Cat.

In terms of the acting; it was pretty spot on. There couldn't have been a better Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee Sarah Whalen and Justine Anderson who had the most chemistry on stage and were also constantly in sync. Although, I was a bit surprised that they were in the story as they don't appear in the original novel. However, many stage and movie adaptations have included them, so I suppose the playwright was going off of that.

Oliver Lacey (March Hare), Karen Crone (Mad Hatter) and Jackson McGovern (Dormouse) had the audience in hysterics during the Tea Party scene, with their witty one liners and play on with words, as well as their laughter at each other's jokes. Moreover, these included moments such as Crone's rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', Lacey's Long poem and McGovern falling in and out of sleep, waking up and talking nonsensically at a rapid pace. McGovern had excellent comic timing and stage presence both the Dormouse and the Caterpillar, perfectly encompassing the Caterpillar's eccentric, over-enunciating nature. Simon Burvill-Holmes also commanded the stage with his haunting portrayal of The Cheshire Cat and his mockery of the Queen of Hearts.

Unfortunately, I was unimpressed with Walker's depiction of the titular character. She was very artificial in her interactions with other characters and within herself, resulting in her not showing that she was finding anything curious and curiouser. Additionally, her nasally, high pitched tone was both superficial very displeasing to the ear and it was a poor directorial decision as although Alice is young, she is British and not American. As someone who'd grown up with this story, it was disappointing not to have Carroll's vision of Alice brought to justice and truthfully executed on stage.

However, all in all, the production was a pleasure to watch and a joy to be thrown into a colourful, peculiar world which I did not want to leave.

Alice in Wonderland Live

Venue: Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm

Show times: 10th July at 7pm

11th- 13th July at 11am & 2pm

14th July at 11am, 2pm & 7pm


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From This Author Virag Dombay