Unique take on Alice in Wonderland in Charvil tomorrowBy Caroline Cook
December 05, 2012
There is nothing traditional about Gobo Theatre’s latest production.
It’s Christmas, but they’re not doing a pantomime – it’s Alice in Wonderland, but not as you know it.
The touring company, who perform in Charvil and Woodley this month, have created an intriguing show which takes Lewis Caroll’s classic story and adds an extra, more sombre, twist.
“Alice is a teenager and her older brother has been killed in a car crash so Wonderland is her escape from the grief and pain,” explains director Amy Standish.
“All the characters she encounters are the usual characters, but they teach her a lesson about grief.
“Like the Mad Hatter being at the tea party is teaching her about time and how it is a good healer and the Cheshire Cat is all about how she doesn’t like other people smiling because she doesn’t want to be smiling.
“All the characters are reflected in someone from her life too, so the King and Queen, for example, are her parents.
“The White Rabbit is guiding her and he is played by the guy who plays her brother too. He is a little bit ghostly.”
Although the story has been given an emotional undercurrent, Amy says it is still a lively tale which fans of the original will be able to recognise.
“Often people are quiet afterwards and the next day we get emails saying ‘that was wonderful’,” she says.
“I think it’s confusing because the play is definitely funny but it’s all about grief.
“I like that an audience is able to laugh and come away with something to think about rather than be completely depressed.
“It’s a really fun, lively production and it’s just sandwiched by the more serious front and back.”
While other companies will be settling into theatres around the country for a long stretch of panto, Gobo Theatre will be hitting the road, travelling as far south as Devon, in the run-up to Christmas.
“It’s been really good so far,” says Amy. “It was a play that was written to be in one big theatre with a lot of technical stuff and things that grow and shrink but because we are touring the White Rabbit now has to orchestrate a lot more of what is going on.
“He’s always there tweaking things and helping her out to make sure she gets the right message.”
The show uses a cast of five actors, two school-leavers and three fresh from university, to play 32 different character roles.
“We like to take a production like Alice which gives them a pretty big challenge, particularly with our ethos of trying to help young people get started, ” says Amy.
The Gobo Theatre Foundation was set up to give young actors their first stage experience, as well as equipping them for life as a professional actor.
“We started in order to help young people get their first job in acting,” says Amy. “No-one is allowed to audition if they have had a professional job before.
“We provide them with everything they need to continue working. By the end of the tour they can apply for equity cards and we just nurture them through the whole thing.
“Schools and universities don’t tend to teach them about what it’s like to be self-employed so we have an accountant who takes them through that as well.”
And Amy says the actors are definitely put through their paces in the latest show.
“We don’t have a crew so they set everything up and pack everything away. There are lots of challenges with the different venues but the cast revel in having to amend it as we go around.”
n Alice is at Charvil Village Hall tomorrow, The Oakwood Centre in Woodley from Wednesday, December 19, to Thursday, December 20th, and Hurst Village Hall on Friday, January 21.
All performances start at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 or £8 for concessions. To book call the box office on 01865 305 305.