Aussie Kelpie Arts
Star Theatres
Until 27 May 2018

Review by Paige Mulholland

The story of “Alice in Wonderland” has been told and reinterpreted countless times – through literature, music, theatre, movies, television and pretty much every medium there is. With a story that is so well-worn, it’s hard to imagine that anyone can write or perform a truly original interpretation, but that’s the task that local company Aussie Kelpie Arts set themselves. Although the script and lyrics were sometimes awkward and could definitely use some tightening up, the show had some funny and heartfelt moments and deserves praise for championing South Australian artists.

Aussie Kelpie Arts’ “Alice in Wonderland” is a hybrid of the original Lewis Carroll classic and the sequel “Through the Looking Glass” with some modernisation thrown in for good measure. Alice, ridiculed by her family and struggling to assimilate into adulthood, follows the White Rabbit to wonderland, where she encounters the usual suspects – the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Red Quen and “Through the Looking Glass” characters such as the Jabberwocky. The script is written by Josh Heaysman, who also adapted the lyrics from popular pop songs to create the show’s soundtrack.

“Alice in Wonderland” has some funny, self-aware jokes and times where the plot is engaging and the dialogue flows, but none of these elements are consistent throughout the show – for every hit-moment, there is a miss-moment, and the songs, although sometimes funny and enjoyable, don’t do much to advance the plot and are often quite repetitive.

The cast, too, had their strong elements and their weaker ones. Rachael Leahcar’s appearance was certainly a surprise, and was a vocal highlight of the show (unsurprising, as she is a professional performer in an amateur production), and Carolina Fioravanti played Alice with gusto and a pleasing vocal tone, although struggled with pitch and characterisation at times.

The puppeteers manoeuvred their puppets with excellent skill and comic timing, and Sash Elliott and Asha Perry played the Mad Hatter and the March Hare with confidence and humour. Maggie Aylett looked glamourous and fierce as the Jabberwocky, although the decision to portray the character as a sassy black American woman, when Aylett was white, was a little cringey. She would have been just as enjoyable to watch, and just as sassy, without the racial element.

Although the set had some malfunctions and made the stage quite congested, the costumes and makeup for the show were excellent, bringing colour and fun to Wonderland while still looking practical and comfortable for the performers.

The show was far from perfect, but was obviously a labour of love for the cast and crew. The work they have put in to writing, producing, designing, rehearsing and performing the show is evident. The show looked like great fun to create, and was, at times, good fun to watch.