Writing about Alice Underground without giving anything away may be as nonsensical as the world of Wonderland Les Enfants Terrible have created itself. Not that nonsense is allowed anymore. Oh, no – we’ve moved on since Alice’s first plunge down the rabbit hole and everything is all about order and rules. Do those rules make sense? Probably not – Wonderland can never quite escape its upside-down and roundabout heritage which makes this production so much fun.
It’s not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, it is a show very heavily inspired by it but with its own story to tell. So, happily, you will recognize many of the characters and tropes but you won’t know quite what to expect from them.
I was quite stunned with what they have done with the space in The Vaults. My meetup group has been there regularly and it was so transformed that we couldn’t tell where in the warren of the venue we were. Weird corridors and hallways serve to disorient and disassociate you from the ‘real’ world and make Wonderland all the more believable. One of my very few gripes is that the production rushes along at such a speed you have nary a moment to savour the set. If you could wander through it all at the end like you do at Grimm Tales it would be amazing.
From the moment it started we were transported and enraptured with it and the moment it ended we just wanted to do it all again. This is partly because, as with my recent outing to the Generation of Z, there are several storylines all happening at once, and you can’t see it all in one go. The audience has one choice at the beginning of the play – Eat me or Drink me, and then later you are randomly assigned to a suit of cards, and your fate and path through this trippy, slightly creepy world is set. The show is immersive and interactive – the action happens all around you and you do truly become a part of it.
So, four suits, four different experiences (plus a few other surprises as well for the lucky ones) though we all seemed to get to see Tweedledum and Tweedledee and take part in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. And the show finishes for everyone with a complete farce of a trial which is highly amusing and surprisingly dramatic before you’re whisked back out into the real world. Luckily, you don’t have to enter reality just yet. If you go on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday you can while away several hours in their bar where they have live music, magical pies, a little maze and a token gesture croquet pitch (it’s really small).
Totally Committed to Nonsense
Les Enfants Terrible have really captured the essence of the Alice in Wonderland that we all hold in our imaginations – I’m simply amazed at what they have created. They give Punchdrunk a run for their money that’s for sure. The only downside is that it’s not cheap so if you want to see the other bits you’ve missed you’d end up paying a lot of money. Here’s hoping they reward previous visitors with a reduction in price for a repeat showing, á la Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man.
For more information, go down the virtual rabbit hole to their Website