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Alice's Adventures Under Ground

For

8 years +

When

03/02/2020 - 09/02/2020

Where

Royal Opera House

Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD

Thurs 7pm, 9.15pm

Sat 11.30am, 1.45pm

Sun 12pm, 2.15pm

Gerald Barry's new opera squeezes Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass into one extraordinary 55 minute act.

Alice Under Ground

It is being played (for one week only) on the main stage at Covent Garden and the scale of the venue only adds to the feeling of surreal oddness that brilliantly permeates this perfect gem of a show. This critic doesn't know anything about modern opera but the clanging cacophony of jarring noises and relentless top Cs (there are 100 in all) coming from the flame haired Alice as she fall fall falls will grab anyone with an ear and eyes from the moment the curtain goes up.

She is met by the White Rabbit and she is off - on a journey like none I have ever seen. The set is a black and white Victorian stage such as you might buy for a child in a flat pack, on to which various well known tableaux from the two Carol books are seamlessly woven. The momentum is kept up throughout. The invitation to the Duchess to play croquet with the Queen, the scene in the Duchess' kitchen with the baby, tea with the Mad Hatter - it all seems to flow in the natural way of a crazy dream.  We have Jabberwocky sung in Russian (well why not?), then in French, then in German. Alice finds herself in Looking Glass land and has to make her way across the eight chequered squares of a chess set to become a Queen herself. There is a gloriously funny Humpty Dumpty and two tilting knights, reluctantly fighting to get her over the last hurdle. 

Sometimes the dreamlike/nightmare quality of the Alice story when presented on stage turns into surreal chaos but what I loved about this - and it is helped by the grandeur of the setting - is the structure in which it operates. Alice herself wears a Victorian crinoline cage throughout, the action unfolds within the cardboard sets, on the chessboard. Many of the characters appear in fours - four eat me drink me bottles and four huge cakes, four cartoon giant baby faces (in the style of the traditional Happy Family playing cards), four giant daisies. It has the structure of a dance - the Walrus and the Carpenter of course make an appearance. 

Alice is never scared. She takes each odd turn of events as they come with the practical directness of a child. We are dreaming the dream with her. And what a crazy, nuts, beautiful dream it is.

The Opera House has undergone a multi-million pound restoration to 'open up' to a new generation of audiences. Alice runs for two evening performances tonight (Thursday) and two matinees on both Saturday and Sunday. Most of the tickets in the stalls are sold out but prices in the Gods start at £3 and there are lots still available. I cannot think of a better way to introduce anyone to the joy of this fabulous venue.

Click here to book tickets.

Photo credits above: Claudia Boyle as Alice c.ROH, photos Clive Barda

Thurs 7pm, 9.15pm

Sat 11.30am, 1.45pm

Sun 12pm, 2.15pm

Address:

Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD

Venue phone:

020 7304 4000

Venue website:

royalopera.org

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