By Hannah Claire Pinnock, Arts Critic
As a big ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fan, it was with great excitement that I recently attended this immersive production of Lewis Carroll’s classic. Reworked by Les Enfants Terribles to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the story, the experience did not disappoint.
Entering the production, deep in the vaults under Waterloo station was a surreal experience. The creation began slowly as we cautiously entered unknown rooms with only the group of twenty five audience members, no sign of the Cheshire cat or the Knave of Hearts. Finally we were greeted by some of Wonderland’s best known characters and asked to choose: Eat me? Or drink me? With that we were divided into two groups and led in two different directions. We found ourselves divided once more and designated a suit; alone in a room with only the three of diamonds to guide us further into the story we continued through dark passageways to each scene. All four groups had a unique adventure; consequently you could visit the show several times and have a novel encounter at each.
As we were led from scene to scene, we witnessed different characters that were the fabric of Carroll’s tale; as the story unravelled the audience became integral in gathering pieces of evidence to establish who had eaten the Queen of Heart’s jam tarts. Each scene was full of nonsensical fun and the execution- “Off with his HEAD!” was seamless throughout. The production was of exceptional quality, with each character more convincing than the last.
The penultimate scene which saw the four suits reunited was of course the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which was convincingly produced and an excellent twist on the original tale. Finally the Queen of Hearts held court to establish who was responsible for her missing jam tarts. And how furious she was! Marvellously cast and wholly convincing, she did a superb job of holding the finale and closing the show. Directors, Oliver Lansley and James Seager and their production team deserve high praise for the convincing sets, the attention to detail and the consistently seamless production.