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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Polka Theatre, Wimbledon - review

PUBLISHED: 14:19 03 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:40 03 December 2013

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Polka Theatre

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Polka Theatre

© Robert Workman

Alice aficionados will be delighted by the Polka Theatre's Christmas offering this year, as director Rosamunde Hutt presents a true-to-the-original production of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This is no Disney-fied, sparkled up affair. Adapted by Simon Reade, this version retains pretty much all of its original surrealism, as the well-known characters pass by in rapid succession.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at Polka TheatreAlice's Adventures in Wonderland at Polka Theatre

Alice herself, played with perfect wit, charm and a hint of cheekiness by Ebony Feare, moves in bewilderment between the scenes, growing larger or smaller at the bite of a mushroom or sip of a drink, ever seeking to enter the Queen of Hearts’ elusive garden and so return home for tea. She is joined by five other cast members, who share out the rest of the characters, switching seamlessly between them all in a way that belies the doubtless multiple frenzied costume changes backstage.

Nia Davies makes a wonderfully sleepy Dormouse, while Sam Worboys confidently struts his stuff as various flamboyant characters, including the Mad March Hare and the much-put-upon King of Hearts.

Gehane Strehler rejoices in two of Carroll’s most famous characters: the Cheshire cat and the Queen of Hearts. She carries both off splendidly with a compelling stage presence and pleasing singing voice. A particular highlight, however, is provided by Robert Saunders’ gruff Gryphon and Dale Superville’s ponderous Mock Turtle, who between them make an oddly matched, yet strangely touching pair as they sing and dance their story to Alice while she awaits her trial before the King and Queen of Hearts after a disastrous game of croquet.

Original music by Martin Ward and an evocative set design by Ti Green add to the surreal, dreamlike mood, which left the audience nostalgic for the well-loved childhood classic and only too aware that time passes all too quickly, before we are left, like the playful White Rabbit, running late in a bid to catch up.

• Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland runs at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon until Saturday February 15, 2014. Tickets can be bought online at www.polkatheatre.com or by phone on 020 8543 4888.

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