REVIEW: Alice in Wonderland @ Northern Stage

Jenny Cooke reviews the recent musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at Northern Stage.

Jennifer Cooke
11th December 2017

This play is perfect for the family this Christmas, especially for one with younger children. It was a lively, entertaining event, the carnivalesque atmosphere and staging transported the audience to the interior of wonderland almost immediately. An impressive part of the performance was the live band that was comprised of the cast rotating whenever they were off the main stage, playing incredible modern music throughout the musical.

Following from the live band, the play was transformed with some wonderful original songs and many recognisable instrumental musical moments for the audience to enjoy. The cast rotated between characters with the inventive aid of costume changes that were different enough not to confuse the audience, however some of the characters were prominent enough to notice in any role they played, regardless of accessories.

the ‘Jabberwock’ (a looming monster brought to life in the form of dark puppetry in the play) was inspired by a legend from County Durham

The North was clearly an inspiration for this play, with Alice being noticeably Northern, and I was informed that the ‘Jabberwock’ (a looming monster brought to life in the form of dark puppetry in the play) was inspired by a legend from County Durham. This brings the play home and would make it personal for any individual watching from the North, and being able to establish that connection to a classic novel would help the audience relate to the drama onstage.

The ensemble members were a highlight, engaging with the children whenever they were onstage or nearby, giving the play an inclusive feel, rather than one that was just to be watched. The chess metaphor was used as a motif to link together the action ingeniously notably with the two opposing queens (both of which were formidable performers) acting as counterpoints to one another. Added to this were the many interactive moments, especially towards the end, that ensured that the children are kept part of the experience.

Overall this was a wonderful, dynamic performance that would be an excellent evening out for musical lovers.

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