Words by: Geoff Ferres
Photography provided by Fuller PR
In the leafy grounds of Ripponlea Estate, a children’s theatre adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland is bringing smiles to the faces of littlies from across Melbourne! It was a hot summer night when I dropped in to check out the Australian Shakespeare Company’s relaxed reworking of this classic tale and quickly discovered that all you’ll need to bring is a picnic rug and an appetite for family fun.
The performance environment is quite magical. Having followed a series of white rabbit markers to reach the theatre area, I found a group of around 20 families picnicking on the Ripponlea lawns in dappled shade, scattered in front of an informal stage. With one primary performance area serving the cast for most of the show, a small group of surrounding garden locations are also used to great effect as interactive spaces.
While the storyline that the Australian Shakespeare Company have developed diverges liberally from the original plot, the classic characters are all present; from Alice to the White Rabbit, the Dodo, the Caterpillar, the Duchess, the Queen of Hearts and many memorable others. The cast are consistently engaging and enthusiastic; at ease with the breadth of age ranges they capably entertain.
Although Alice’s antics in the psychedelic Wonderland have great perennial appeal for audiences of all ages, the most impressive element of the production is audience participation. Guided singing and dancing regularly got the kids up and bopping – particularly once the Mad Hatter arrived! Not to be left out, the adults were also invited to get involved in the plot in a surprisingly fun and memorable example of deep audience integration.
Highly recommended for families with children in the 2-6 age bracket.
Alice In Wonderland will be performing daily at the Ripponlea Estate through to January 24.