Since it’s publication in 1865 Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and it’s sequel Through the Looking Glass have left generations spellbound, amused and bemused. The tales have been interpreted on the stage, screen, in music and even in the pages of graphic novels; the fantastical nature of the books and their hallucinatory scenarios have made them the perfect templates for imaginations to work upon.
In their stylish new production of Alice Scottish Ballet not only inhabit Carroll’s invented world but also put the author centre stage giving them both the opportunity to examine his weird and wonderful Wonderland but also hint at the obsessions that drove the shy Oxford clergyman and polymath to create his timeless tales.
Many of the backdrops have been created using Carroll’s own photographs and the theme of photography is playfully sprinkled amongst the fantastic – in both senses of the word – in sets designed by Anthony McDonald. McDonald’s equally extraordinary acid coloured costumes, with clear hints at the punk-art designs of Lee Bowery, give both an additional sense of otherness to the world as well as hinting at what Carroll’s less innocent creative influences might have been.
This richly created world provides as fine a complement to Scottish Ballet’s Artistic Director Ashley Page’s rich choreography as Tenniel’s illustrations did for Carroll’s words. Page, who continues to push boundaries in dance without in any way dismissing tradition may have found the perfect material in Alice with it’s mixture of Victorian primness and unrestrained oddity.
As engaging, entertaining and bewildering now they were one hundred and forty five years ago Alice’s adventures are constantly being discovered by new generations of children and re-discovered by grown ups in need of a little magic. This imaginative retelling, on tour from 12th April, may well be the perfect place to continue that love affair.