This isn’t the story of Alice as we know it, but an after-Alice story, long after she fell into Wonderland to a time when nonsense has been banned by the Queen of Hearts, and the different card suits are fractured into classes. But there is a rebellion afoot…
All theatre, all forms of storytelling, should transport you and surround you with the world of the story. But there’s something about being physically led through the world which is particularly apt for Alice in Wonderland.
I won’t give any spoilers, but very near the start you are asked to choose whether you will “Drink Me” and follow the white rabbit, or “Eat Me” and follow one of the playing cards. This splits the group in two, where you are then split into two further groups when you are given your playing card suit. You are led through different rooms and different scenes as you go through the story.
I went with my mum and we made different decisions at the start, and then the way we were then split into our respective suits meant we had completely different story experiences and none of our plot points crossed over at all (except a visit to the mad hatter’s tea party and the queen’s court at the end).
The sets are bloody incredible. Just the initial space with the cloakroom and bar are beautifully done, but then you go in. You first wait in a room like an antique junk shop, full of bits and pieces of Victoriana. After the lights start flashing and papers go flying, a door appears and you walk into Wonderland through a tunnel made of book pages.
As a piece of intricate theatre it’s amazing how they make it work. Different groups at different stages of the story are being led through, so each scene has to run like clockwork, with the actors that move between different moments needing to keep track of exactly where and why they need to be, and the actors that stay in one scene needing to be fresh each and every time they repeatedly do their piece. This is no easy feat to ensure is timed correctly, or to maintain the energy in what’s a very hot underground set (seriously, I have no idea how the white rabbit does it in that costume). It’s a testament to everyone involved that at no point did it feel like it one show of up to about 36 loops they’ll do in one session. Although you could occasionally hear other groups, it completely felt like it was a fresh story just for you.
They do a children’s version in the mornings, then the adult version in the afternoons and evenings (so make sure you buy a ticket for the right performance!). The afternoon performances are slightly cheaper. You can also pre-book a cocktail, which you are given in a teacup just before the mad hatter’s tea party. (And make sure you’re not late by a minute – because of the way the show works you can’t enter late and don’t get a refund. I saw a group of very disappointed people being turned away because they were 10 minutes late when I was there).
I will definitely go back to make a different choice & see the other side of the story.
Check the website here, and watch the trailer below: