An ambitious new theatre project by Les Enfants Terribles and Emma Brünjes Productions takes you down the rabbit hole and into the heart of Wonderland.
“DRINK ME” or “EAT ME”. You need only make one decision but it will play a part in how your experience unfolds in this marvellously mad, subterranean production of Alice’s Adventures Underground.
Though the production bears her name, Alice is decidedly absent for the most part but this only serves to place the audience at the heart of the story – you may be following in Alice’s footsteps but this is most certainly your adventure underground.
The Vaults at Waterloo is the perfect home for Wonderland, playing host to 33 specially-designed sets that bring this fantastical, imagined world to life. Here, you’ll get to see, touch, taste and interact with everything and everyone that you encounter, from burrowing your way through secret bookcases, landing in dizzying digital zoetropes, diving for cover in Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s nursery to facing the formidable Queen of Hearts in her court.
Although 56 people enter at any one time, there will be a split early on to create four groups, each one representing one of the four card suits. There will be some shared experiences but each group will also meet a different set of characters and enjoy their own part in the bigger storyline, namely ‘Who ate the Queen’s tarts?’
We highly recommend you ditch your friends (TIP: stay together at Border Control where different suits will be issued one after the other so you’ll be split up by default) so you can fully immerse yourself in the madness. Part of the joy of this production are the different encounters and journeys that each person experiences and sharing your individual stories at the end is all part of the fun.
Also, seeing as this is an interactive piece of storytelling, be prepared to play your part if you happen to be plucked out – that includes entering into the unknown through a door amongst a myriad of locked ones (or are they?), being “prepared” for the oven in the cook’s kitchen or being mocked by none other than Humpty Dumpty. If you’re chosen, go with it – it will only further enrich your personal experience.
This is a bonkers but brilliant production with a most engaging cast and it is well organised considering the logistics of the entire production (and battling against unforeseen circumstances – there was a power cut the night we attended). The sets are undoubtedly worth a marvel, particularly the grand Rose Bar glasshouse which precedes the enormous 60-seater Mad Hatter’s Tea Party room complete with a water display that leaps out of nowhere – best to stay in your seat. Also worth pointing out is the melancholic Mock Turtle and his acoustic number which triggers a perfectly-timed display of showers, producing a moment that is surprisingly moving for all in the room.
It’s a brilliant celebration of the 150th anniversary of the originally titled Alice’s Adventures Underground by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, as it is commonly known).
This is a piece of theatre won’t leave you any time soon – it’s entertaining, barmy and mesmerising all in equal measure and we can’t help but note that when we think of Wonderland, this is exactly what it should be like.
Runs until 31st August 2015. Tickets cost from £35 (90 minutes running time). To book, visit alice-underground.com.
Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, London SE1 7NN