George Hulkes recounts her recent trip to Wonderland in this review of Les Enfants Terrible’s immersive theatrical extravaganza.
The audience are promised to leave the world that they know and enter a place that is turned on its head, a world vibrantly colourful and utterly bonkers. For this, Les Enfants Terribles’ production of Alice’s Adventures Underground at the Vaults Theatre in London most definitely delivers. The performance incorporates scenes that are recognisable to lovers of the films and books alike, as well as some new additions by the theatre company themselves to this stark, raving mad story.
A clear strength of the venture is the wonderfully intricate set design that completely immerses the audience into Alice’s world underground. Spanning from the Tulgey Woods crafted from streams of paper to the Moroccan inspired shisha den of Absolem the Caterpillar. Upon arrival, you either decide to pick ‘eat me’ or ‘drink me’ to determine the path you will take and then begin your journey into the depths of Wonderland.
No audience member is left wandering alone as the performer you follow maintains a narrative throughout. And, whilst your guide through Wonderland is endlessly enthusiastic, this energy makes it difficult at times to determine who their target audience member was. You are left wondering: is this an interactive evening to create an immersive world for children or a menacing, unpredictable spectacle for adventurous theatre goers?
‘this beautiful, imaginative and original exploration of Lewis Carroll’s world is both exciting and logistically impressive’
Despite this, it is without question that this beautiful, imaginative and original exploration of Lewis Carroll’s world is both exciting and logistically impressive as the 12 shows in succession each night amazingly never overlap throughout the 33 room theatre. This quizzical maze spins you round in circles and completely confuses the senses, echoing the words of the Mad Hatter that “a dream is not reality, but who’s to say which is which?”.
Alice’s Adventures Underground is running at the Vaults Theatre until 23rd September 2017.
(Image courtesy of Jason Joyce)