Mark Ludmon visits Wonderland to review Creation Theatre and Big Telly Theatre Company’s Zoom-based interactive show, Alice: A Virtual Theme Park
Alice: A Virtual Theme Park
Creation Theatre, Zoom
I have often been sucked down a rabbit hole of “research” sitting at my computer surfing the web. Creation Theatre takes you down the original rabbit hole from the comfort of your home to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland in its latest live Zoom-based show, Alice: A Virtual Theme Park. Working with Big Telly Theatre Company and Charisma.ai, director and adaptor Zoe Seaton has shaken up Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to create an interactive experience in the style of a “choose your own adventure”, with a seven-strong cast.
You sit in front of your computer screen and follow Alice (played by Leda Douglas) down the rabbit hole, along with other participants around the country who are also watching and waving back. (You don’t have to keep your video on but it works best that way.) You are then given a changing menu of options for where to go, like choosing rides in a theme park. Maybe the kitchen where the cook is making jam tarts, or join the March Hare for a synchronised swim, or meet the Queen of Hearts herself and risk losing your head.
Drawing on Carroll’s original texts, it is an inventive adaptation, glorying in the craziness and nonsense of the source. Some of the “meetings” work better than others but there is plenty to make you “chortle” (a word invented by Carroll in the poem, Jabberwocky). Due to the flexible structure, I didn’t get to go on every “ride” – giving a reason for returning for a second visit – but, for me, highlights included Vera Chok’s fabulous and terrifying Queen of Hearts and Tom Richardson’s brilliant and hilarious turn as both Tweedledum and Tweedledee – a one-man double act that pulls in comic traditions from music hall to the Chuckle Brothers. Charlotte Keatley, best known for her play My Mother Said I Never Should, has devised one particularly surreal ride, taking us inside the Mad Hatter’s head, in a frantic, dizzying performance by Dharmesh Patel.
From a game of musical statues to playing hedgehog croquet, this is a truly interactive, sometimes frenetic experience, full of surprises. Although not billed as a family show, it will appeal to children, and, with tickets priced per device, it is best suited to groups of two or more. Seeing other people cavorting around in their living rooms and gardens creates a real sense of connection and coming together – perhaps even more so than sitting in an audience at a live show at a theatre. It is a playful, imaginative take on a well-known story which show online theatre need not be inferior to seeing live performances on stage. Just hold on to your hat – and your head.
Running to 30 August 2020