Alice In Wonderland runs at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester until 20 August 2017 – book here: Alice In Wonderland Tickets
Star rating: *****
I’ve seen Alice In Wonderland in almost every incarnation, now and watching this version, adapted by Glyn Maxwell, in the glorious open air setting of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre was a real treat. It’s set in the round with a fairly moderate space for the action to occur in but plenty of opportunities for the cast to interact with the audience and make appearances sitting beside the unwitting theatre-goers. It all added to the fun and made for an energetic, exciting and unpredictable Alice In Wonderland – and given that unpredictability is at the heart of the story, the direction by Derek Bond has proved to be exceedingly on point.
This particular version follows Alicia (Anna Leong Brophy) as she worries about going to school and is confronted with Alice (Rebecca Birch) who proceeds to chase after the White Rabbit (Tom Connor). There’s excellent use of large prop letters which form the word ‘Wonderland’ as Alice goes about her adventure, encountering all the usual suspects, The Mad Hatter (Alex Mugnaioni), a rather sporty Duchess (Charlotte Gorton), three sneering school girl flowers, the science teacher in the form of the caterpillar (Jonathan Dryden Taylor) and Humpty Dumpty (Daniel Goode), who is rather well to do and was obviously laid with a silver spoon in his mouth!
The costumes are notable, they add to the ambience of the piece and I have to add that it poured with rain during the second half and they bravely soldiered on – with Alicia becoming extremely soaked in her white nightdress! The Mad Hatter’s tea party table is also a wonder in itself and extremely cleverly assembled, so basic yet so effective.
The cast work together amazingly well as an ensemble, they’re a tight unit and all exceptional in their roles. Rebecca Birch is a fun and frivolous Alice while Anna Leong Brophy is a serious and emotional Alicia. Charlotte Gorton puts in an incredible performance as the Duchess, high kicks, cartwheels and long strides – a real physical portrayal, she also shines as Alicia’s mother. Alex Mugnaioni is wondrously mad as the Mad Hatter and Tom Connor is a skittish White Rabbit and also brings hilarious madness to the March Hair. Daniel Goode as Humpty Dumpty was one of my personal highlights, his toffee-nosed accent was such stark contrast to his appearance. Jonathan Dryden Taylor was laid back to the extreme as the Caterpillar and fantastically ditzy as the King. Most of the cast played multiple roles and were adept at putting different characterisation into each part that they performed as.
It’s a show not to be missed, my favourite incarnation of the story to date and I could watch it again and again if offered the opportunity! I recommend that you embrace the open air setting and head to Chester by 20 August!