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Review: Wonderland at the Groundlings Theatre

Published: 25th June 2021 15:50
 We were excited about our first trip to the theatre since last year, it was nice to feel that pre-show buzz and anticipation, and we were intrigued by the promise of ‘escaping down the rabbit hole' at the Groundlings Theatre. After months of lockdowns and associated restrictions escapism was just what we needed, and escapism was just what we got.

Tobias Robinson's ‘Wonderland.', billed as an ‘almost sequel with a hint of galumph and mimsy' and directed by Amy Harrison, embraced all the elements of the literary nonsense genre that Lewis Carroll did when he penned Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, and thus enabled the audience to suspend their disbelief at what was happening on stage.

 Alice, (played by Abigail Hancock) is now grown up and has returned home from University under mysterious circumstances, struggling somewhat with the impact of the pandemic on her studies and social life, her pretext for returning home (the anniversary of her Father's death) is clearly a cover for something else. Her mother and her mother's partner try to uncover the source of her unhappiness but as busy NHS workers they head off to their jobs, leaving her alone in the house...

 

 At this point, the audience is asked to put their own recent experiences of the uncertainty and enormity of a global pandemic to one side and enter instead the alternative madness of Wonderland, as Alice is joined on stage by The Rabbit, played impeccably throughout by Daniel McCrohon.

 

 Bunny, as he prefers to be called, is overjoyed at seeing Alice again but she has no recollection of him or initially the world in which he whisks her away to, the Wonderland of Alice's childhood. Her journey through Wonderland reacquaints Alice with all the weird and wonderful characters that Lewis Carroll first imagined, from the pre-larval Caterpillar (Stephanie Dickson) to the very Mad Hatter (Paul Danan), who both shine alongside a cast of professional and amateur players. The trio of flowers bring much laughter and are a welcome antidote to the dark menace presented by a very imaginative representation of the Cheshire Cat.

Alice's surreal revisit to her dreamworld (or is it?) uncovers the real reason for her disillusionment and sets her on a potential new path, something so many of us have had to do because of the pandemic.

If you are looking for pure escapism and a night away from the current reality, then head down the rabbit hole and lose yourself in Wonderland!

Tickets available from The Groundlings Box Office

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