Review by Terry Gaisin
If you are a Crossword [or Jeopardy©] fan, Charles Dodgson was the real Lewis Carroll. His three fantasies became part of every child’s bookcase. Stratford director Jillian Kelley has opted for a consideration of the humorous aspects of the tale rather than the subtle philosophies of the original. Obviously aimed towards a young-ish audience, she still manages to include some props and situations that will tickle the parents or grand-parenting accompaniers. Photo courtesy of Erin Samuell
A basic knowledge of chess will certainly go a long way to explain the diverse royal moves as well as the fumbling of the white knight. Appreciating the concept of reversing the laws of physics on the other side of the mirror also will help one accept the overall premise. Just like this writer clapped in order to resuscitate ‘Tinker Bell’ a few seasons back, I deleted my practicality button and just let myself cross, along with Alice, to the rear of her looking glass.
The cast are Energizer-ed like the famous Bunny of part 1. More important, they perform with enthusiasm and an amazing vitality that reflects itself in audience attention and affinity with the ridiculous activities on-stage. Naturally, a comedic/dramatic actress of such talent as Cynthia Dale could manage to bestow regality, charisma and fun on her Red Queen. She even adds verve to her chorus numbers. Her opposition is equally into the spirit of the game. Sarah Orenstein holds her own in every scene she shares with either Alice or Miss Dale; while Dion Johnstone is as bumbling yet charming a White King as any monarchist could desire.
A new Stratford member is Elliott Loran and his Gnat character is totally a charmer. Facial expression; body language and understated little gestures all help fill out his portrayal. The Tweedledum/Tweedledee duo of Mike Nadajewski & Sanjay Talwar have enough chemistry between them as to be reflections, one of the other.
The pivotal Alice of the piece is Trish Lindström who we last saw as Tempest’s ‘Miranda’ with Plummer. She was outstanding then, and she’s a dazzling Alice. Granted the Brit accent is a little difficult for these old ears, and projection could be improved, but her acting – exemplary.
I absolutely enjoyed retrograding back to my era when Carroll’s books were obligatory. So, recommended— a resounding YES. Now for a little fun –
‘The time has come the Walrus said, to talk of many things: – of shoes & ships – – – – – – – – and cabbages & Kings”. Bet you’ll need to GOOGLE™ the dashes!