Alice in Wonderland – Alice in Australia Land – Alice in NOW Land…
Michael Sieders’ modernised reimagining of this children’s classic is right off the bat fresh, inventive, fun and timely. In a climate where gender relations are more than merely bending and stretching, but rather breaking and dissolving (soon to be hopefully re-forming anew – for something better and stronger and much healthier), this is a story of what it is to be Girl, Woman, Feminine – ‘Proper’… The norms are challenged – along with convention – and there is befitting encouragement of the individual to chase after themselves and not others – persons, perceptions, expectations, or otherwise.
Alice, played by Dubs Yunupingu, is an engaging and relatable heroine. Awkward, unsure, appealing. And it is a highly effective physical and vocal performance – she truly is the ‘anchor’ of the show – the heart. Yunupingu’s Alice is on the ‘outer’ of society – represented here by three other children who ‘fit’ together. They are the mob, the majority, the ‘accepted’. Alice is a loner, Alice is ‘not cool’, Alice is an ‘other’ – and I don’t think it can be lost on the audience either that a non-verbalised commentary on Yunupingu’s Indigenous heritage is being made here too. It’s there if you ‘want’ to see it. Actress and Dancer Dharpaloco (Dubs) Yunupingu is from the Gumatj Clan of North East Arnhem Land and the Darug people of Western Sydney. And it is truly great and encouraging to see these gender and race issues being so competently highlighted and discussed in a children’s production. It is sincerely hopeful.
Sure, I am talking about heavy themes here, but don’t get me wrong, there is also ultimately an innocence at the centre of it all, an extremely strong sense of play, and a lovely light deft touch to it. Movement, puppetry, a good balance of character change-ups between the ensemble of four, bar Alice. For Alice is always ‘Alice’ – she just needs to come to terms with who Alice is… The sound design is impeccable, with appropriately accompanying lighting – and there is compelling multiple usages of the single set-piece design – a contemporary children’s playground – all colourful and familiar one minute; all strange and threatening the next.
The show doesn’t outstay it’s welcome either, at an appropriate one-hour duration – in; fun, thought, adventure; out. The cast are energetic, engaged, and supportive – there feels a strong sense of camaraderie amongst them. The clear visible youth on display of all performers undoubtedly easily resonates and relates well for the child audience. Director Cristabel Sved has wrangled, led, and held her cast well, while playwright Mary Anne Butler’s adaptation is cheeky, identifiable, and investigative – a great update and addition to the long history of this much-beloved story.
[I saw this production with my family, for pleasure and entertainment purposes – this was not work-related at all. I felt compelled to write, discuss, and more].
Go. Enjoy. Discuss.
Discuss. Discuss. Discuss.
Many a rabbit hole to explore!
Peter Maple – Theatre Now & On The Town
5 – 27 January
PREVIEW: 5 JANUARY AT 12PM & 2PM
TUE-THU AT 10.30AM & 12.30PM
FRI & SAT AT 12PM & 2PM
SUN 7 JANUARY AT 12PM & 2PM
Venue: Riverside theatres
Theatre Company: Michael Sieders Presents
Duration: 60 min
Lewis Carroll’s whirling, fantastical masterpiece is faithfully and beautifully recreated as a nonstop, madcap theatrical adventure for the whole family. See the classic kids’ tale in an all-new Australian adaptation by multi award-winning playwright Mary Anne Butler, starring Dubs Yunupingu as Alice – the first time the role has been played by an Indigenous woman.
Published more than 150 years ago, Carroll’s classic tale of the girl who fell down the rabbit hole has proven as timeless as it is entertaining. Directed by Cristabel Sved (Before/After, Sydney Theatre Company), Alice in Wonderland is a brand new production from the producer of the critically acclaimed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Sydney Festival 2015).
“Dubs Yunupingu is a stand-out, with an intriguing mix of natural self-assurance … and a gorgeous voice” Time Out Sydney
Recommended for ages 7+.
Executive Producer Michael Sieders
Adapted by Mary Anne Butler
Director Cristabel Sved
Production Designer Melanie Liertz
Sound Designer/Composer Steve Toulmin
Lighting Designer Matt Cox
Production Manager Damion Holling
With Dubs Yunupingu as Alice, Alex Packard, Ebony Vagulans and Drew Wilson
Photo: Richard Hedger
GENERAL ADMISSION $36
$106 FOR FAMILY OF FOUR
+ BOOKING FEE