Alice in Wonderland (4 stars)

Alice in Wonderland

credit: Peter Martin

Blue Raincoat do wonderful things with their adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic

Sligo's tremendous Blue Raincoat company always bring the unexpected to their productions, and their unique take on Alice In Wonderland is no exception. Eschewing the notion of Alice as a 'Spoilt Victorian Child' as the late Mark E Smith had it, there are in fact two versions of Alice here: the older one (Hilary Bowen-Walsh) who provides much of the narration, and the younger one (Miriam Needham). Both are headstrong and resourceful, even when falling through the rabbit hole and encountering bizarre characters along the way.

With masterful lighting from Barry McKinney and a brilliant set by Paul McDonnell, it looks ravishing, like a painting by Edward Burne-Jones, and the scenes where Alice shrinks and grows are hugely effective.

But of course the whole cast excel in terms of physical theatre: Niall Henry's direction is eerie and feverish. With the minimum of props, there's a great deal of unabashed anarchy, not least in The Mad Hatter's tea party, where the table is more like a seesaw, sliding on the ground. Sandra O' Malley is an imperious Caterpillar, John Carty's Cheshire Cat a louche presence, and The Mad Hatter, portrayed by Brian Devaney, seems to suffer from anger management issues.

There's a truly disarming scene, when Bowen-Walsh delivers a rendition of The Mock Turtle's 'Beautiful Soup' first of all, as the wizened Mock Turtle, then with all of the purity of a medieval plainsong. Her voice is exquisite, and a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of youth. This Alice In Wonderland may often be erring on the side of mischief, but it means well.

Tron Theatre Glasgow, run ended.

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