Adam Bird


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Sunday, 25 May 2014

An Afternoon at the Theatre

Alice in Wonderland at Greenwich Theatre

Admittedly we are not the most cultured of families, our collective experience of the theatre amounts to a few pantomime performances and the odd West End show. So when we were offered the opportunity to visit Greenwich to watch a performance of Alice and Wonderland we set off not really knowing what to expect.

Sell a Door theatre company is a mid-scale touring theatre whose aim it is to attract young adults and teenages who wouldn’t ordinarily attend live theatre and excite them of the possibilities in which live theatre provides. Alice in Wonderland is their latest work and is running at Greenwich until the 1st June.

Yesterdays performance was the first live showing to an audience and we were invited to the preview and to enjoy the celebratory Mad Hatters tea party beforehand. The communal areas of the theatre had been decorated with props and themed around the whole Wonderland world as written by the author Lewis Carroll and brought to life in many forms of media ever since.

My two children, aged seven and two were given a fully immersive taste of the eccentric with people roaming around in full costume and a range of activities on offer. Face painting, badge making, biscuit decorating and even the bar was given a full Wonderland makeover with tasty treats such as ‘Caterpillars Cranberry Crush’ aimed at thirsty amongst us - which we all were and enjoyed thoroughly!

Before we had ventured too far into the rabbit hole it was time to grab our seats and wait curiously for curtains up, except something appeared to be missing… the curtains themselves. Sat in our seats looking down at the dimly lit stage all of the actors were already in situ, all motionless apart from the actress who was obviously playing Alice. She was sat silently on her bed reading a book and being distracted by her phone, which caused my seven year son no end of confusion, had we started or not? His question was soon answered as the lights went down and a quiet Alice launched into her first few lines, captivating us all entirely.

Now not being a theatre going connoisseur, writing a review of something that I have absolutely no authority on is a near impossible task. But what I will say is that having now witnessed a production of this scale, I have nothing but admiration for what these people do. For nearly two hours aside a short interval (where the delicious ice-cream provided much novelty for the little people), six actors stood on stage and brought to life the complexity of Lewis Carrolls much love tale. With ingenuity, stage craft and various role changes the entire production was filled with surprise and the three of us were left very much delighted.

I was concerned that it might be too long a time for my two year old to sit and watch a performance of that length, but apart from the occasional bathroom visit (she is at that age now) she sat glued to the stage pointing and commenting on various occasions whilst my seven year laughed at the required places and clapped along whenever the audience felt obliged.

If the Sell a Door theatre company has a manifesto in which to attract young adults, they’ve certainly succeeded this time around. The three of us don’t quite fulfil that category (sadly), but they’ve certainly gone a long way to attracting members of the ‘young family’ demographic. With an accessible production that doesn’t feel elitist or pretentious it ticks all the boxes any young family needs with a big emphasis firmly on fun.
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