Review by Wendy Samantha
The classic tale of Alice discovering a most incredible Wonderland springs to life in the comfort of your own home as you watch this delightful rendition via digital theatre. Lights of London showcases this familiar journey the whole family will enjoy. You will giggle as you recognise your favourite characters who sing simple tunes with catchy rhythms the kids can bop along to.
A musically enchanting opening sets the pace to engage curiosity through clockwork and star imagery which prepares the screen for some magic. Alice is pretending to be listening to her older sister, but wants nothing more than to venture off into her own imagination and do her own thing. For what little sibling listens to the older one? Distracted suddenly by the talking white rabbit, Alice soon finds herself in an unknown place meeting bizarre personalities. And whilst nothing is quite what it seems, Alice’s adventure allows her to learn a little more about herself whilst assisting her new friends to solve a puzzle of pieces that brings Wonderland together.
Dayo Ade is a delightful Alice who displays a natural inquisitive nature and believable astonishment. She has clear vocals and sets the tone for the story to enchant the audience. Iain Gibbons inhabits the white rabbit wonderfully and it is clear he is always in a rush. This contrasts nicely with the memorable caterpillar played by Michael J Ansley, and whilst his head bobbing off his body on and off was a little displacing, the on screen bubbles were definitely a highlight with the little ones. Darrie Gardner’s quirky little dormouse sitting in a teacup is very cute, which leads to one of the most enjoyable moments which is where the Hatter (Ansley), Hare (Rob Maynard) and the dormouse singing “We’re All Mad Here”. Gardner also plays the Red Queen who thoroughly embodies hysteria, control and demand as expected. Ian Renshaw is a stand out of the cast, playing the grand duchess that is memorably funny and Humpty who got a good laugh in my household. Overall the cast is well selected and the performers seem to be enjoying themselves together.
The use of digital backgrounds and green screen effects are appropriate and mostly well done despite some slightly jumpy transitions. There is sometimes an almost psychedelic look which is probably appropriate to Alice’s experience when growing and shrinking, and there are some gorgeous talking animations. The hanging clocks imagery was an impressive feature. Staging is all well lit with bright, simple costumes fitting for all characters. The use of props is minimal which in this case adds more because of the detailed nature of the digital backgrounds. The cutest little plush pig wrapped in a baby blanket was a nice touch.
Deriving from the first of COVID lockdown digital screenings, One Day in Wonderland is an enjoyable experience that you can share at home, probably more with younger primary aged children. There are some great one liners that will have you grinning like the Cheshire Cat, and you’ll want to drink tea and snack on jam tarts!
So snuggle up with this one as part of the fabulous Melbourne Fringe Festival, and jump on the couch to enjoy some memorable family time.