Alice got off to an uncertain start to her time in Wonderland, and The Australian Shakespeare Company’s outdoor musical production of Alice In Wonderland at Rippon Lea Estate had similar initial trials. However, all’s well that ends well in Glenn Elston’s adaptation, and younger children will especially find plenty to enjoy in this school holiday outing.
The shaky start was caused by a not very memorable opening song (however, those to follow were much stronger) and then having to wait thumb-twiddling for 20 minutes for most of kids in the audience to crawl through a tunnel when the show had only just begun.
It was also lamentable that so much speech was directed away from the seated audience, or wasn’t quite loud enough to overcome an unfavourable breeze, so I found myself guessing at dialogue on numerous occasions.
As an adult I’ve seen some outdoor theatre aimed at children that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. While Alice in Wonderland might not be the best example of a show that appeals to children and adults, there were some surprises for the older folks, such as when the cast tinker with the familiar tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” by performing it in a variety of styles.
Successes of the production relate to its sense of fun. Fun created by energetic performances, music, Karla Erenbot’s costumes with Kerrie Stanley’s millinery, and Kaspa Elston’s props such as the Cheshire Cat with Brian Smith’s inflatables. Technical problems should disappear down a rabbit hole as the season proceeds, and if the enjoyment shown by younger children and their adults at participating in the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game is any guide, Alice in Wonderland looks set to deliver some nonsense worthy of the Mad Hatter to families this January.
Dress for the weather forecast and take a picnic.