Wonderland @ The Royal Lyceum Theatre

Review by Steven Fraser | 17 Sep 2012
  • Wonderland

Wonderland does not take its main influence from Lewis Carroll but from tales of sexual exploitation and mistreatment. This approach sets precedence for the performance and the severe themes that are forcefully confronted and presented to the audience.

Alice (brilliantly played by Jenny Hulse) is not made to feel small by drinking a potion, but through sexual manipulation. She auditions to become a pornography actress in a tense scene that further emphasises the themes of manipulation and betrayal. Her white rabbit is not a fantasy creature, but a forceful director and her own naive curiosity. Alice’s journey challenges the nature of the pornography industry and asks questions of the abuse and neglect that woman within the industry face.

There is a voyeuristic approach to the story, with the character of Alice’s father, John (played superbly by Paul Thomas Hickey) hiding secrets from his wife. Again we see another side of sexual exploitation when John manipulates a venerable female over a web camera.

All this is played out on an exceptionally constructed stage, designed by Kai Fischer. A screen to the rear projects video footage and another transparent screen to the front offers a veil which contains imagery of domestic bliss. The story is almost split in two with the life of Alice’s parents being separate from her own turmoil. These worlds come together when the front screen on the stage is pulled back and John has a role to play in Alice’s fate. This is performed with drama and tension, creating a breathless piece of theatre.

Vanishing Point Theatre Company have stamped their own unique approach onthe tale of Alice in Wonderland and created a strong and bold dramatic interpretation. The conclusion is left somewhat ambiguous, but this results in a formidable and powerful performance. [Steven Fraser]

Run at EIFF ended. Tramway, Glasgow 22 & 26 – 29 September at 7.30pm www.tramway.org http://www.vanishing-point.org