I was invited to attend a performance of Alice in Wonderland at South Hill Park at the weekend and while I wasn’t really sure what to expect, seeing as neither the invitation nor the website really gave much away, it ended up being a really good show!
I ran a little bit late as the traffic from Milton Keynes to Bracknell was horrendous for some reason but I did make it there eventually and I was quickly brought up to speed on what I had missed, which hadn’t been much at all to be honest seeing as I had only been absent for ten minutes.
At the beginning of the show the audience all gathers around the Wonderland signpost, where they are greeted by none other than Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee! After being handed either a black or red card (because of course, what else would you use in Wonderland?!) the group is split into two and the adventure into the world of Alice begins as you head off in two different directions.
I had been expecting to move on to a theatre where we would sit and watch the story unfold, as you normally would, however I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the show was far more interactive than that – we even had a chance to play croquet with the Queen of Hearts! After stumbling across Alice, we began our adventure through the rabbit hole and into Wonderland as the audience quite literally follows the character on her travels through the beautiful wooded and grass surroundings that South Hill Park is home to (so I was very glad for the good weather as it would not have been quite so fun in the rain!). The audience was involved throughout the show and all of the actors and actresses did such a wonderful job of improvising when the children began to ask them questions as if they really were the characters that they were playing. The sets were also beautiful and the wooded landscape that they were built into really gave them an authentic feel that it definitely would not have had if it were just set on a traditional stage. Of course as a lot of the props are handmade and there are times when you can see the actors/actresses moving them about, the show does require a lot more imagination than a traditional performance does but I felt that it just added to the magic and the children in the audience clearly had no problem with playing along!
Overall I had a really wonderful day and I cannot thank South Hill Park enough for my invite, it was wonderful to see a production piece of one of my favourite childhood films for its 150th anniversary – especially in such a gorgeous location and in such a uniquely styled performance!