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.
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.)
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.
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.