Step in Wonderland at South Hill Park
Published 3 Aug 2012 14:30 0 Comments
"If I had a world of my own," said Alice. "Everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?'
Let Skewbald Theatre take you on a stroll through Wonderland, brought to life in the charming gardens of South Hill Park, Bracknell. Explore Lewis Carroll's world of the absurd and the magical, as told in Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass, as The White Rabbit appears from between the trees, The Cheshire Cat spouts whimsical riddles, and the notoriously tempestuous Queen Of Hearts misplaces her beloved tarts and puts a prohibition on the consumption of jam.
"We call it strolling theatre, a posher word for it is 'promenade theatre'," explained Skewbald's artistic director, Hayley. "The audience comes on the journey with the performers and follows the story around whatever park or woodland or grounds that we perform in. It's the dual thing of experiencing nature and the environment and at the same time experiencing arts and culture.
"In the theatre you cannot make the amazing backdrops you find outdoors, and obviously it changes all the time when we are working outdoors. The light is changing, there might be rays of sun through the trees, it's very much alive and exciting."
She added that the interactive storyline was a twist on the original texts: "We wanted to make it appealing to a modern audience and some things have a modern feel - the Queen Of Hearts is having her own Wonderland Games, and she is trying to get her subjects to take part, but in Wonderland, if you go up against The Queen, it does not matter whether you win or lose, you're still going to lose your head!
"We have turned it into a crime caper - one of the things that runs through Alice In Wonderland is that The Queen's tarts have been stolen, so when the audience arrives they come across The White Rabbit, and he is actually a detective and needs their help to find the tarts. The Queen has decided to ban jam - so there is a jam crisis, like Prohibition in America. It's a really mixed pot of references. The Cheshire Cat is a bit of the villain of the piece, and The White Rabbit is the hero.
"The children love it because it's outside and they get to move around, they love that - it's interactive. There are lots of songs with live music. And the adults get all the jokes and modern references, and appreciate hearing the lines from Lewis Carrol. The tales are bit bonkers - we needed to keep that!"
Down the Rabbit Hole - An Adventure in Wonderland is at South Hill Park from Thursday, August 9-Saturday, August 11. Tickets cost £12 or £8 for children, £32 for a family, from www.southhillpark.org.uk or 01344 484 123.
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 02 Aug 12