Wonderland theatre review: A bold musical adaptation of the classic children’s story.
Wonderland theatre review, Katey Thompson, April 2017.
Alice, played by Kerry Ellis, in this musical adaptation of the popular storybook is turning 40, lives in a tower block and in the opening scene has her car stolen and is sacked from the job she hates. Her teenage daughter (Naomi Morris) is a delightfully supportive when she receives a letter to say her ex is re-marrying. Her life seems to be hitting rock bottom and she desperately doesn’t want to live in the real world. A white rabbit (Dave Willetts) appears to guide them on a surreal journey into a magical world through the broken lift in her flat. Her helpful, doting but ineffective neighbour Jack (Stephen Webb) isn’t sure she should be following her daughter and the rabbit but joins them anyway.
A life of grey suddenly becomes an iridescent, exciting, but nauseating underground world where the inhabitants live in perpetual fear of having their heads chopped off by the evil Queen (Wendi Peters). The alternate reality presented in wonderland gives the central characters pause to consider if they are happy, and whether they are willing to become the opposite of themselves by going through the looking glass. The transformations are comedic, especially seeing Jack transform from a nerdy tax administrator to rock god; the audience loved it. The premise of becoming your better self is used to good effect and the characters that appear along the way to challenge their idea of who they really are come to life in full technicolour.
The strength of the character adaptations is key to this performance and each one of the bumper cast truly bring this adaptation to life. All characters are clearly slightly insane, The Mad Hatter (Natalie Mcqueen) is tyrannical but with a loose grip on power and the Queen is a jam tart short of a full picnic. The Cheshire Cat (Dominic Owen), March Hare (Ben Kerr) and Caterpillar (Kayi Ushe) are also delightfully entertaining, and full credit to the costume department.
This isn’t quite what you might expect in terms of the storyline, more for teenagers and adults, but this is a strong theatrical cast with some powerful vocal performances.
Wonderland theatre review, Katey Thompson at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking.
Wonderland is running at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until 8th April 2017.