Saturday, 10 March 2012

Alice By Heart.

To the Lyric, Hammersmith to see their Young Company's production of Alice by Heart a new rock musical based on the Alice in Wonderland story that Drama St Mary's alumni Stef's been directing as part of the National Theatre's connections festival.

The work's been written by Steven Satar and Duncan Sheik, who came to prominence with the critically acclaimed, but rather precocious pop version of Spring Awakening at the theatre, a couple of years ago.
It's a difficult piece to follow, set deep in an underground station during the blitz. Alice, charismatically played by Scarlet Bilham, tries to revive her dying friend Alfred sensitively played by George Pelham, by inviting him down the rabbit hole for one last time.

The problem with the show (and one that the St Mary's Alice company share) is that re-contextualising the stories doesn't seem to add anything to them. Wouldn't it simply be better to let them stand as themselves?

Yet there is a fascination with trying to get beneath the surreal characters and situations, an effort to find a moral or reason behind the stories.

The writing here shares our hunch that the work stands as a metaphor for the shift between childhood and adolescence and that a little cut here or re focus there might give a fresh and clearer perspective. It's a thin line though between revealing something new and destroying Carroll's essentially amoral world of pure escapism that make the texts potentially so liberating in the first place. Mighten it be better to write an original quest?

Still, for all the complications Stef's young company were completely committed to the play and rightly very proud of their work.

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