Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Alice is bored and then sees a White Rabbit. He’s late and she follows down the rabbit hole into the world we know so well. she finds the Cheshire Cat, the Queen, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee amongst others as well as all the usually expected experiences that come when her feet hit almost solid ground. Off we go on her travels until she is back, awake and her sister asks her if she may be ready to go. All a dream?
This has a captivating start and given that it has the visuals from the original books, charm is rest assured. We go from a voiceover that introduces the scene with the beauty of an English countryside to the integration of the White Knight as he appears within the visual of an outdoor scene. It is something that happens throughout, this mix of live performance with visuals that reflect the journey. When it works – with the Knight and the Cheshire Cat, it works very well indeed. I was not so enthralled by the flowers or when we are with the Guards in the garden.
Overall though Mr. Dilly gives us the beauty of the piece which does not seek to provide us with a radical alternate interpretation of a classic text, but a straight up reliable and relatable tale. This is exactly the type of entry into a classic which is wonderful to find. There are no liberties and juts the text to follow.
Visually it is a bit of a treat, though again some of the sections convince more than others. The camera work and the way we are directed into each scene works well and we are never left without attentiveness and some form of visual or aural stimulus. The pace is good, and it keeps us very attentive.
Performances add to that joy as they are played for authenticity rather than effect. Key to that is the Rabbit and Knight and both ooze the charm of the period whilst managing to allow the absence of a visual Alice to be something we accept rather than challenge. The custom of telling the story to here which she experiences and we do as we see it form her point of view has a consistency which works.
It is well directed though seeing the same person over and over, no matter the costume changes and flips with characters was a little disconcerting. There were high points – aforementioned Rabbit and Knight – but less successful ones along the way. The script works very well and I really enjoyed it and should you be looking for the story without having to explain how things have been altered for a modern audience or a specific time frame, this is just the right type of tonic to take: all you need to do is to read the instructions and watch it!