Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There) @ Studio 411
Thursday, November 28, 2019


In this modern age which seems so full of stress and strife, it can be a blessed release to escape into a world of fun and fantasy. Rosemary Nursey-Bray’s adaptation of Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There) offers just such a world. Directed by Jordan D’Arcy, the story takes us into the world of Lewis Carrol’s iconic Alice as she discovers the amazing sights and creatures of Wonderland.

One day Alice discovers that there is another land on the other side of her looking glass. As she wishes she could go and explore this land, the mirror disappears, and she is able to climb through and finds herself in Wonderland, a back to front land where to get where you’re going, you need to travel in the opposite direction. Here Alice meets the Red and White Kings and Queens, and the chattering, talking flowers, learning that Wonderland is laid out like a chessboard and if she can make it to the eighth square, she will be crowned a queen. With help from the Red Queen, Alice sets off to claim her crown. Along the way, she meets many more well-loved characters, including the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, as well as Humpty Dumpty and of course, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. The ensuing interactions are the cause of many laughs as Alice tries to find her way.

Studio 411 does not have the largest of stage spaces, however, director Jordan D’Arcy does an excellent job of making the action flow without it ever looking over-crowded, even when the cast on stage reached double digits. A minimalist set by Matthew Moynihan helps this along, and the use of simple storage boxes to become plinths for the royals, a train that Alice has no ticket for, and a bed of sorts for the Red King as he sleeps through intermission, works incredibly well. To represent the chessboard of Wonderland itself, the floor is marked in black and white squares, which help Alice find her way. Costumes were of an excellent standard and really matched the setting and story. This was a team effort and the costume designer deserves a pat on the back.

There are a number of cleverly devised scenes throughout the play, including the shadow play used to tell the story of The Walrus and The Carpenter.  As Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum sit Alice down to tell the tale, cast members brought out a sheet to act as a screen with a backlight shone on it. More of the cast then used cut-out characters between the two, creating a delightful mini-play within a play.  Another good utilisation of cast was turning them into a river. A number of cast members, dressed in shades of blue, waved their bodies like water flowing in a very creative and original effect.

The cast was on the whole very good, with a few standout performances. The White Queen, played by Kendra McGrady, was delightfully ditsy and kind.  Mike Moshos was a wonderfully pompous and self-important Humpty Dumpty. While admonishing Alice for warning him to be careful of falling, he states it won’t happen, but if it did, the king has promised to put him together again. Everyone, of course, knows how that ends. Another delight was Kate Manson’s March Hare. She did not have a lot of lines, but her facial expressions made up for that repeatedly. It takes a true talent to get so many laughs just from one’s face.

Of course, it would be remiss not to mention the star of the show, Alice. Natalia Myslinska’s Alice had just the right amount of curiosity, incredulity, determination, and politeness to endear her to the audience. Her mannerisms and reactions caused a lot of laughs throughout the show and she is to be applauded for a job well done. The standouts amongst the standouts, however, had to be Stephanie Beckham and Rosalie Schneider as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. These two as the contrary pair truly were hilarious. Their voices, exaggerated movements and crazy battle had the entire audience laughing hard.  They worked so well together, and it was obvious they had great chemistry. It was an act that could work well on its own.

The near capacity audience were certainly enjoying themselves throughout, and the laughs were regular, though sometimes not as hearty as they could have been. The only issue, if one can even call it that, is that the music, while quite fitting for the scenes, was sometimes too loud and drowned out the actors a little. This did not stop anyone from having an enjoyable night, however, and Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There) was another production worthy of Murdoch Theatre Company’s excellent reputation.


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