Three great British institutions are combined as Liverpool-based theatre group Three Mugs of Tea adapt Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in order to explore the modern pastime of accumulating crippling credit card debt, in Eat Me! Drink Me! Buy Me!
Using a classic text as a framework on which to examine a socio-political issue is the modus operandi of the four women that comprise this young troupe. Last year they presented The Jungle Referendum: a meeting of those great titans, Kipling and Salmond. In their current production, naïve Alice is lured into ever-spiralling debt by the seductive efforts of Hatter, Rabbit, and Cheshire.
It is a low-budget student production, and it shows in its sparsity; but what it lacks in polish is offset by the imaginations at work and the likeable exuberance of the cast which adds a Python-esque edge to Carroll’s more genteel anarchy.
The satire is a little obvious perhaps – we all know how we’re drawn into the endless parade of consumption – but there are lovely little touches like a chanted medley of well-known ad jingles that builds up in sinister fashion until it resembles a strange satanic litany; and a surreal courtroom scene complete with squeaky hammer also amused.
The show never entirely blames rampant consumerism as the villain of the piece, as our desire to be led is also mercilessly skewered. Eat Me! Drink Me! Buy Me! isn’t the most sophisticated analysis of current economic trends, but it is a charming piece staged with real infectious vigour.