Alice in Wonderland

Playhouse, QPAC (Queensland Ballet)


Students of logic, like young children, have a marvellous grasp of the absurd. So it was with Oxford University logician Lewis Carroll whose Alice in Wonderland is performed by the Queensland Ballet as an explosion of life, colour and delight.

The result is a helter-skelter journey through seemingly crazy images which somehow have a coherent logic through the persona of Alice, danced magnificently by young Bianca Scudamore.

The Company was brave to have such a major role performed by a child but the result is as expert as it is charming. Scudamore takes us on an adventure where we meet the fascinating characters of Lewis Carroll’s world. The ballet world is bound to see much more of this gifted dancer.

Always animated, always rushing to make up time, the White Rabbit (Teri Crilly) fills the stage with energy. Crilly’s comic genius hustles us along as the clock ticks oh-so-quickly. The timing and grace of her dance are captivating.

The Doormouse (Gemma Pearce) is a lovable character, always on the brink of falling asleep. Pearce brings a sense of timid mischief to this role. She was a hit with the many children in the matinee audience which your reviewer attended.

The bad-tempered Duchess (Rachael Walsh) creates dramatic tension with the eccentric cook (Keian Langdon). Walsh dances superbly in this unusual role, thereby demonstrating once again the remarkable versatility of this artist.

We are taken in the story through the regular cavalcade of characters. The Queen of Hearts (Kathleen Doody) is forever calling “Off with their heads!” while the King of Hearts (Gareth Belling) scoffs the tarts but lets Alice take the rap. We are also treated to a range of decidedly odd characters Tweedledum (Robert McMillan) and Tweedledee (Rian Thompson), Humpty Dumpty (Joseph Stewart), the Mad Hatter (Blair Wood, not the MP for Kennedy), the White Knight (Yu Hui), and many others.

The eclectic choice of music adds to the exuberant unpredictability of the production. The music Benjamin Britten is juxtaposed to the “Jamaican Rhumba” of Arthur Benjamin, followed shortly by Gymnopedie No. 3 of Erik Satie. Somehow this jumble sale of musical extracts works. Even Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble-bee” bumbles its way into the mix.

This is a production designed for children aged from 4 to 104. Follow the energetic buzz of Teri Crilly’s White Rabbit and don’t be late.

Choreography and director: Franois Klaus
Set and costume designer: Richard Jeziorny
Lighting designer: Glenn Hughes
Performances: 31 March to 14 April 2012 Duration: 2 hours with 1 interval (20 minutes)

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 30th March 2012)