Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Very well-written production by students from Bristol University, though this is far from a student-level production. It a visually beautiful, impeccably acted, though on occasion the script lets them down and an over-all truly original trip into a half-finished Wonderland.
The Pleasance Beside, Jabberwocky Production’s venue, is make-shift and, to be honest, very underwhelming. However, upon walking into the the space you are handed a china cup and saucer, with a biscuit balanced on the edge. You take a seat and are offered ‘drinkable ink’ and are poured a cup of inky blue tea. The stage itself is covered in fake grass and littered with cups, saucers, ‘Smugs’ and cakes. The whole sight, combined with a beautifully-costumed violin player, creates one of childish joy and, frankly, is a little bit magical.
This sets the tone for the whole show. The script is witty, involving voice-overs of Lewis Carroll trying to finish his infamous text and forcing his characters into a total existential crisis. However I’m sure that what secures the script is their superb delivery. The acting from the cast of four is committed, passionate and as near-flawless as an end-of-it’s-run Fringe show can be. The instantly-recognisable characters are dressed beautifully, in very old-world lace and tail-coats. From the moment the White Rabbit comes on stage he commands the affection and sympathy from his audience, he is unconventional in appearance and easily escapes any stereotype of Wonderland-presentation and, all credit to the dressers of the show, none of the actors fall into this trap. The interaction between the White Rabbit and Mr Carroll provides some of the highlights of the show, although his monologue describing falling down the rabbit hole is tragic but very funny.
Certain short-comings of the script are left entirely unnoticed in the wake of the strength of the relationship between the Hatter, the Hare and the Doormouse. The girl playing the mischievous and exceptionally likable Doormouse has pitch-perfect tone for creating a very believable Carroll-esq rodent without ever resorting to cliches. The Hatter too, though surprisingly morose, presents us with a refreshingly human Hat-maker and, oddly enough, creates a far more tragically relatable presence within Wonderland.