On Saturday, June 21st I had the pleasure to attend a performance of Alice Through the Looking Glass at the Stratford Festival. This was a fabulous, family-oriented show that had just as many jokes for the adults as it does for the children.
This show was filled with many surprises for its audience, so I won’t be giving away any spoilers about the magical things that happen in Wonderland, and focus instead on the play itself as a piece of theatre and its technicalities.
Alice Through the Looking Glass was certainly a beautiful show. The main set and moving set pieces were simply delightful to behold. From giant flowers, to trees whose leaves fall off and also back on, to a train car filled with anthropomorphic animals (and all propelled by ‘Alices’ on bicycles), the audience is clearly transported into the world of the imagination of young Alice. Everything seemed larger than life, and certainly made Trish Lindström, who played Alice, look the size of a 7 year old girl. The set pieces for the Gnat and Humpty Dumpty were especially fascinating; they were very intricate, and watching the actors interact with and be a part of these set pieces was amazing. The costuming was magical as well! To see all the chorus members in looking-glass land versions of Alice’s dress was hilarious, especially because they were not restricted to the female members! And the regal characters looked just that, with fabulous wigs and flowing outfits, they looked beautiful. With all the little stories that were told, it’s amazing to think of just the sheer number of costumes they must have for this show alone!
The actors in this show were marvellous! Most of them played several parts within the play, and it was so amazing to watch them transition from one role to the other. I have to mention Trish Lindström again, because her portrayal of Alice was just wonderful! It is so difficult to convincingly play a small child on stage, but Trish did it so well. Plus, with her petite size and then massive set pieces around her, it certainly made her look very young and small, perfect for Alice. The play was very well cast overall, and everyone certainly did their part in making the experience simply magical. To be able to bring to life these fairy tale characters that everyone knows so well is quite a feat, but one that they easily and skillfully accomplished.
The play itself was interesting in its own right. It had just as many intellectual jokes for the adults as it had slapstick humour for the youngest patrons. I was actually quite surprised at just how advanced some of the topics were of the jokes in the play. Knowing that it is inspired by a children’s novel, I hadn’t anticipated jokes about the arbitrariness of language or the histories of England. But for the little ones, nothing could top Humpty Dumpty’s extraordinarily long arms or the White Knight barely being able to stay on his horse! It truly makes for a wonderful family experience as everyone is entertained, and with the little surprises thrown in, it makes for a great interactive experience as well.
A really cool thing that the Festival has introduced this year (or at least I haven’t seen them in the past) is a special Children’s House Program for the little ones who are attending the show. The little booklet is filled with mazes, puzzles and word games for kids that are linked to all of the shows on at the Festival this season. I think this is an absolutely fabulous idea! It gives the kids something to do while waiting for the show to start or during intermission, but then also makes for a neat souvenir afterwards. And I know most moms already have crayons in their purse, so you should be set for some fun even before the curtain goes up!
I really enjoyed seeing this show, and I highly recommend seeing it, especially if you have children. They’ll love it, and you’ll love it. It’s a perfect show to start off your child’s love of theatre.
If you’d like to but tickets, here is the link to Stratford’s Website: http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/OnStage/productions.aspx?id=24390&prodid=52402