Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Review – Harewood House
By Victoria Holdsworth, June 2018
You could not have picked a more glorious summer’s day to take a stroll down memory lane. As a child, I loved the tale of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Even now, as a larger child, I love it just as much. However, this would be my first time seeing this classic in theatrical form – and not having to watch it in a theatre made it even more appealing to my senses.
Set in the beautiful grounds of Harewood house, it was almost exactly how I had envisaged it would look when I used to read the story, soaking up those words, creating and imagining these characters and settings. Everything was brought to life beautifully this evening.
Taking to our picnic blankets, the scene was set. Some folks were even dressed as their favourite characters, which was lovely to see, especially in the early evening sunshine. However, there were some people who had clearly forgotten that this was indeed a theatrical production, and so provided an endless backdrop of chatter and noise whilst the performers were trying to act.
The journey of a magical and mesmerising trip down the rabbit hole would have perhaps been a stretch too far for anyone to pull off, and whilst the set and props were minimal, the costumes and enthusiasm made up for it.
The Chapterhouse cast delivered the story to point with all the original characters. Most scenes were clear apart from a couple of occasions where the outdoor nature of the production meant the voices didn’t quite project dependent on the direction the actors were facing.
That being said, all characters were suitably eccentric and larger than life, with standout performances coming from The Mad Hatter (Jayson Baird) and The Cheshire Cat (Rebecca Hare). The actors playing The Playing Cards (Melissa Stanton and Jayson Baird) were wonderfully engaging, introducing the audience to Wonderland and its obscure nature. Alice (Eleanor Faye) herself, large and small, gave a captivating performance.
Some of the more playful sections were clearly designed for a younger audience, who seemed to delight in it all, which was lovely to see – and some audience interactions provided an extra layer of enjoyment and laughter. Indeed, the team behind this production should feel very proud of their achievements.
The whole experience encompassed the variety and flexibility of theatre, as this enchanting story was uprooted from the stage and planted directly in Yorkshire’s very own wonderland for many people to enjoy.
“Wonderful shadowed backdrop”
One of the greatest things about watching something like this in the open air – and what really stood out the most for me tonight – was the way that casting of natural light, as the sun moved across the sky throughout the evening, making a wonderful shadowed backdrop. It certainly added to the famous psychedelic feel of the story.
A fantastic time was had by all, and I’m looking forward to going through the looking glass next with The Chapterhouse Theatre Company.