Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (4 stars)

Director Anthony Neilson takes on Lewis Carroll's classic tale

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

credit: Drew Farrell

For the festive season the Lyceum embarked on a rather ambitious challenge: adapting Lewis Carroll's nonsensical masterpiece to the stage. Bringing to life the succession of vignettes that take Alice down the rabbit hole and all the way to the Queen of Heart's famous garden party is no easy feat; thankfully the result is a visual accomplishment will delight both younger and adult audiences.

The success of this new adaptation is mostly due to the combination of the superb set and costumes with flawless theatrical tricks – using props to 'shrink' Alice, and hidden traps to make characters disappear in the blink of an eye. There is enough (but not too much) slapstick to delight the many children in the audience, and excellent puns that remain faithful to the atmosphere of Carroll's original text.

The overall pace is unfortunately a bit uneven: the scenes involving the Mock Turtle and Gryphon that drag on. Similarly, the songs that punctuate the play are amusing but become too frequent in the second half of the show, distracting from the main storyline.

The impressive cast's enthusiasm is contagious, from Zoe Hunter's excellent Caterpillar to the Queen's Guards; they all brilliantly support Jess Peet who makes a strong professional stage debut as Alice. But ultimately the flawless costumes and otherworldly set, complete with paper-mache air balloons and kites gliding above the audience, make Alice a magical and truly enchanting experience.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until 31 Dec.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Anthony Neilson brings to life a Victorian version of the classic Lewis Carroll tale.

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