By Abbie Gallagher
Entering the theatre for Alice in Slasherland, the only place left to sit was the front row.
The Old Fitz. An intimate venue which hosts a huge variety of shows. From theatre art to burlesque, from classic epic dramas such as Angels in America to lesser known gems like Low Level Panic, a night at the Old Fitz is guaranteed to be a great one. The typical greeting, the usual please turn off all phones now...
“No-one's wearing Gucci in the front row?”
And with those highly reassuring words, the strobe lights were on.
In Alice in Slasherland, awkward teen Lewis Diaz has decided tonight's the night he confesses his love to his best friend Margaret. Unfortunately along the way he manages to accidentally resurrect the soul of long-dead, brutally murdered Alice and open the gates to hell. It's up to Alice, Lewis, Margaret and Alice's foul-mouthed teddy bear Edgar to save their town from death, demons and the devil.
Despite the above description, this play is indescribably fun. This is not a parody of Alice in Wonderland. In fact it has virtually nothing to do with that story. It's a love letter to every cheesy cliche, every borderline stock character, every over-the-top, bloody death in B-grade slasher films since the dawn of time. And I loved every minute of it.
From the deceptively simple set, to elaborate lighting, director Rachel Kerry has taken full advantage of the Old Fitz stage and showcased how this is truly the perfect venue for this piece. And that's just the beginning. This play calls for complex technical elements and staging, and these are all executed flawlessly. The use of projection, puppetry, film and lighting, including flashlight only, enhances the necessary moments of the story and pulls you into this world where suspension of disbelief is beyond mandatory.
If you've seen any kind of slasher film, you've seen these characters and you know what's going to happen. So does the self-aware production. You'll feel all the emotions, including fear, without any moment being unjustified. Even scenes which don't really serve any direct narrative purpose, such as a highly entertaining sequence where Alice encounters ex-boyfriend/demonic French spirit Gareth, are so hilariously staged that you quickly forget the pointlessness.
I can't talk about this production without giving due praise to the wonderful actors. Bardiya McKinnon (Lewis), Stella Ye (Alice), Justin Amankwah (Edgar), Laura Murphy (Tina), Mia Morrissey (Margaret), Jack Angwin (Tommy/Others) and Josh McElroy (Jacob/Duncan) are all perfectly cast and their antics have the audience roaring with laughter from beginning to end.
Much work has been put into the fight choreography and movement sequences, with the combat sections being well timed and tense while still staying true to the cheesy style. A highlight of the show is the beginning of Act 2, a montage of standard teenage horror movie deaths by the masked killer set to Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. This and another unexpected musical number showcases the musical talents of several cast members and is a welcome addition to the gory proceedings.
Whether you're a horror fan or not, there is a lot to love in this comedic gem. Come along to the Old Fitz for a very fun time, although you should leave the kids at home for this one. And definitely don't wear Gucci in the front row.
Photo Credit: Robert Catto
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.