Lucy Church – Year 12 Student
Editor’s Note: The talented Lucy Church has crafted this excellent, skillfully written review of the recent GSAL production of Alice. It has also been published on the GSAL Blog. Lucy’s review has recently been spotted by a journalist and she may now be invited to write a review on a different topic for a professional publication. Lucy’s brief is ‘something topical to review that is aimed at young people’: watch this space! CPD
This year’s production, Alice, was wonderful. If you were wanting the brief review, you can stop reading, but I urge you to continue – we haven’t even started on our journey to Wonderland yet.
Being a new student to GSAL, I had never had the pleasure of watching any of its theatre, but I knew that the standard of the performance would be nothing less than spectacular. My friends had been asking for a good review with the idea somehow in their heads that their play would be anything less than excellent; having told them that they would be amazing, as any friend would, I went into the darkened theatre with no idea what to expect.
Now, I will tell you that I did not expect to walk into a funeral in Sheffield.
I had read in the program given to me that this was an adapted version of the original play by Laura Wade, and seen the photographs of various cast members, and so had seen that the titular character was not your average portrayal of Alice, but I was in no way prepared to see a memorial to somebody called Joseph Little. Was this a real person? Did I need to pay some form of respect? I was, arriving at my seat, somewhat confused. In the best way possible, of course. Very intriguing.
The show begins as a funeral party arrive at the wake of Alice’s brother, Joseph Little, putting my earlier concerns to bed, thankfully. Many of the stereotypical personalities were present: the bored, the awkward and of course, the inappropriately drunk. These actors would be the cast of the much anticipated Wonderland, which I feel needs commending as they all expertly managed the weight of two (or more) personas.
Wonderland can never be a fixed image, never appear the same in everybody’s minds. This interpretation of it was so intriguing – it was merely nothingness in the beginning, perhaps signalling that this was a new place in Alice’s mind as well as the audience’s, almost incomprehensible to the eyes. The only thing clear was the character of the White Rabbit, played brilliantly by Adam Coukham, giving Alice the quest to find the ‘heart’. Our first glimpse at what is contained within the realms of Wonderland.
Other actors needing praise for their totally convincing performances are: Leela Gaunt for portraying the strength of a teenager compellingly and being the Alice that I never knew I needed to see, Nicky Davis for his completely bonkers Mad Hatter, Lucy-Anne Daniels for embodying a cat so convincingly, Jessica Pogson for being the scarily passive aggressive Border Control, and Annalisa Bergen playing the Queen of Hearts – I am very pleased to have kept my head safely on my shoulders throughout the evening.
Having watched a scary chef, a postman that didn’t want to deliver his own post, an endless tea party, a croquet match and several executions made by the Queen of Hearts, I was beginning to wonder how this story, packed with hidden meaningful messages, could come to a close. A poignant scene that sees Alice realise the ‘heart’ she had been searching for was not in fact a place, but her own. The revelation that Wonderland was all in her mind was a resonating one – it explored the idea that the human mind can be a scary but also comforting place, with the characters from Wonderland joining Alice one last time on the stage as she goes back to Sheffield, back to reality.
To my friends: you may keep your heads. You did a marvellous job. I would certainly applaud Mr S Reynolds for the astonishing production and amazing direction. Alice was simply a beautiful piece of theatre, and was definitely a must-see. LC
Lucy Church (12MDV)