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December 2004
Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass
Alice
Theatre


Alice Through The Looking Glass

The Old Fire Station

Tues 7 Dec 2004 - Sat 18 Dec 2004


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Oxford Theatre Guild, Oxford's largest company of amateur players, made fair and humorous weather of the classic children's fantasy story sequel, 'Alice Through the Looking Glass'.

Traditionally both the 'Alice' stories have presented difficulties for stage companies due to their episodic and pun-heavy nature.

This adaptation however, invigorated Lewis Carroll's original work's wit, demonstrating resoundingly that his hilarious wordplay stands the test of time.

In a close adaptation (with some elements of Alice in Wonderland such as the Caucus Race, inserted to facilitate the boisterous entrance of characters at various points), the success arose from the strong and energetic characterisation.

Although still slightly disjointed, the audience was deeply engaged in each of the tableau and at no point lost or bored. Particularly brilliant was Alex Nicholls as the White Knight: 'It's my own invention', while Juliet Humphrey made an excellent distracted White Queen and Kevin Elliot brought to large life the pompous but kindly Humpty Dumpty (incidentally Carroll was responsible for the portrayal of Humpty Dumpty as an egg - in reality the nursery-rhyme was about a huge cannon of that name.)

The stage effects were simple, convincing and fairly smooth, and careful organisation meant that the nine actors were able to portray a total of 47 characters, familiar faces merging in and out of surreal, dreamlike sequences. With the stage on two levels, Alice (Sarah Wilkinson) stood on the lower and appeared very little girl-like.

Although a little lifeless, her balletic training was evident in her excellent body language and movement around the stage, and admittedly Alice herself is not the most inspiring of characters.

Next year sees the fiftieth anniversary of the Guild and to celebrate they will be doing 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' in Merton College gardens, their first ever production in 1955. But don't wait till then - go and celebrate their 49th year by going to see 'Alice' now and have a good laugh.

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