Interactive theatre. Are you still not quite convinced by it? I am the kind of person who cowers at even the thought of making eye contact with an 'in character' actor. My mind shrieks: "I only came to waaaatch!" As far as the immersive interactiveness of a play goes Alice Through the Looking Glass was a warm bath with a fizzing pink bath bomb bubbling away in it, bobbing a collection or colourful foam bath toys around you and half a dozen of your childhood friends who are splashing away. In other words, just like Alice, I was a 7 and a half-year-old on an adventure like no other.
The first scene happens inside the walls of this church, a woman sings and a solemn group dressed in black surround a old woman, like myself on Monday morning, trapped in her own bed. It seems Mrs Grey is rather poorly and is not speaking until she sits bold upright and stretches towards the mirror - "Alice!"
Can the fearless Alice vanquish this beast and save herself? I will say only this. The ending brought a tear to my eye.
We found ourselves in the garden lines up along a giant chess board, the pieces already singing at the top of their lungs - very useful when you have the restaurant kitchens and Covent Garden's street entertainers to compete with. We watched as Alice introduced herself and explained how she must find her old self who had been sucked through the looking glass. After this we followed Alice to a garden of tall parasol flowers - some of which could talk - they spoke of a scary "You Know What" (Jabberwock!) and the Red Queen told us that was all the way up in square 8. So we had a long way to go and many songs to sing!
The garden was used amazingly well, as we moved from one patch of grass to benches to rugs on the ground, you were actually in Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb's house, in a wet a squirting sea and perched in front of Humpty Dumpty's infamous wall. Having to walk from one place to the next, as the evening grew darker so did ours and Alice's journey.
The impending fight with the Jabberwock was just through the black doors...back into the damned bed! This time it was dark and smoky. The black shadow of a horned creature towered over a woman lit red, demonic in her wailing. In the bed a figure lay but as Alice approached this monster awoke. Its bat like wings were the breadth of the church, its presence was frightening. Can the fearless Alice vanquish this beast and save herself? I will say only this. The ending brought a tear to my eye.
Not only was every moment of this family friendly and frightening play good, each actor was superb. Their costumes, collective movements, songs and voices brought props to life, insect's sympathy and excitement at every turn. They whizzed through the rose garden, up trees and through stone doorways and no one was ever left behind.
We were met with accents from around the country and extreme speech impediments. A lion who must have been a distant cousin of Zed from the Police Academy movies had us roaring with laughter and carrying on like the timid audience pre-intermission has never existed. This August I highly recommend that you join Alice in Wonderland, you deserve to jump out of bed excited.