04/07/2012 - 14/07/2012
Dive down the rabbit hole with the award-winning Outfit Theatre Company into the wacky and whimsical wonderland of Alice. Based on the classic stories by Lewis Carroll and adapted by the team who brought you Treasure Island and King Arthur, Alice is this year’s must-see family adventure show.
Renowned as exciting and original storytellers, Outfit Theatre’s family adventure shows offer a whole new dimension in school holiday entertainment. Deliberately designed to appeal to the whole family and not just the kids, Outfit Theatre take their trademark style of gutsy and explosive entertainment, and apply the blowtorch to a much loved family classic.
Praise for their previous family adventure shows has been glowing, with Theatreview calling Treasure Island; “a children’s show not to be missed…the quality and energy this crew of performers delivers is top notch”, and praising King Arthur as “a brilliantly batty almost-hour of madcap shenanigans…a must-see family holiday treat”.
Show duration: 60 mins.
Venue: TAPAC Theatre, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs.
Dates: 4th- 14th July
Times: Tues, Wed & Fri 11am. Mon, Thurs 11am & 1.30pm. Sat 11am & 6pm.
All tickets: $15 /Family Pass (2 adults, 2 kids): $45
Book now at: www.tapac.org.nz
More info: www.outfittheatre.co.nz
Sarah Graham – Alice
Joel Herbert – Cheshire Cat
Ema Barton – Queen of Hearts
Ryan Dulieu – Tweedle Dee
Andrew Ford – Tweedle Dum
Brad Johnson – March Hare
Kate Vox – Dormouse
Elliot Christensen-Yule – White Rabbit
Alexandra Wylie – Mrs Rabbit
Jordan Mooney – Mad Hatter
Ed Clendon – Caterpillar
Jason Hodzelmans, James Roque, Paul Lewis and David Sutherland – The Cards
greatly entertaining hour-long flight of fancy
Review by Nik Smythe 05th Jul 2012
A room full of children having fun can be a nerve-wearingly noisy event, as the literal busloads of holidaying kids attending the premiere of Alice suitably illustrate.
So, as it turns out as we enter the theatre to be seated, is a stage full of fifteen physically and vocally trained performers, clearly revelling in the opportunity to indulge their noisy inner-children as they tear about playing, scrapping, screaming, laughing, teasing, waving, leaping, crying, singing, dancing and hi-fiving for a full ten minutes, until the bell goes.
Dressed in her iconic light-blue dress and pinafore, Sarah Graham’s Alice is the archetypal wholesome, forthright heroine; a petite, playful tall poppy, ridiculed by her classmates and teacher for daring to take pleasure in the delights of the nonsensical. It has clearly taken a great deal of the collective company’s own imagination, with a handful of party tricks from the repertoire, to deliver a cleverly original take on an acutely familiar tale.
The Outfit’s manifestation uses not only characters and scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classic brace of children’s novels but also elements of Tim Burton’s recent sequel, in particular the notion that innocently rebellious ‘imaginaire’ Alice is the key to an ancient prophecy in which she is to battle the pompously bitter Queen of Hearts (Ema Barton).
The role of the white rabbit goes beyond incidental curiosity to be chased like a will-o-wisp down a hole in the ground. Elliot Yule’s ‘Mr. White’ takes a more active role, intentionally transporting Alice into this fantastical underworld under duress of said despotic monarch, who holds his wife captive. Later we meet Mrs. Rabbit – the only character not in the books – portrayed as a staunch, proud agent of the French resistance by Alexandra Wylie.
The Cheshire Cat, as played by production facilitator Joel Herbert, is also afforded more depth in his oracle-like guidance of Alice through the beguiling chaos known as Wonderland. Sporting an ingenious self-designed multicoloured floating fur costume that lights up and everything, Herbert’s beaming grin fits the bill although his manner leans towards the leering smugness of a dodgy uncle.
The small army of card soldiers comprises the four aces: Jason Hodzelmans’ slow-witted Club; James Roque’s nerdish Spade; David Sutherland’s exuberant simpleton Diamond, and Paul Lewis’ gruff sergeant-major type taskmaster Ace of Hearts, appropriately leader of the small platoon.
With enemies like these Alice just about doesn’t need any friends as they frequently trip over themselves and generally thwart their own efforts to capture her for the Queen on pain of decapitation.
Nevertheless, on her travels Alice does manage to convene a colourful squad to aid in her quest foretold. First she encounters the loyal, sassy, leather-armour clad Dormouse (Kate Vox) guarding a door, hence the name I suppose. Dormouse invites her to one of the most famous scenes in all nonsense-literature, a covert tea party held in secret, since the Queen has placed a ban on tea parties along with everything else fun.
Jordan Mooney’s hyper-expressive cartoon-like Mad Hatter owes more to Disney’s original animated version than Johnny Depp’s schizoid adaptation. Meanwhile Brad Johnson’s profoundly thick March Hare – somewhere between half and a quarter witted – has a touch of Spongebob’s Patrick Star about him.
Despite their relatively distinctive design, there’s no mistaking those hapless, bumbling co-dependents Tweedledum (Andrew Ford) and Tweedledee (Ryan Dulieu). A hilarious duo forever finishing each other’s sentences, or repeating the other’s sentence in reverse, once again their involvement in the reformed plot is greater than before when, possibly for the first time in the history of their tale’s telling, they become separated.
Finally, Edward Clendon’s extraordinarily furbished, acrobatic New-age guru style blue Caterpillar shares the Cheshire Cat’s function as mysterious clue-dropping oracle figure, seemingly as a means to include him in the story as he would indeed be missed. Clendon’s altogether amusing characterisation is only slightly muffed by a couple of unfortunate slips on the hanging silks in the premiere performance.
The overall production is a visual treat. Without time to indulge in every impressive detail, Gayle Jackson’s splendid, flamboyant costuming delights at every turn. By degrees, so does the frequently astonishing lighting and multi-media design by Brad Gledhill.
In their re-imagining of Carroll’s wholly absurd, unconventionally structured adventure story into something with a more driven plot and ultimate resolution, it occurs to me that the company has adopted a very similar intrepid quest-type dramatic formula at the heart of last year’s King Arthur by the same crew, including the hilarious, decisive song-and-dance battle at the epic’s climax.
All technical nitpicking and academic criticism aside, Alice is a greatly entertaining hour-long flight of fancy, successfully capturing the imaginations of children of all ages.
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