Artichoke serves up Alice in Wonderland

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The Independent Culture

Diners at Elsing Hall in Norfolk might feel they have fallen down a rabbit hole this week as the grounds of the great estate near Derham are transformed into Lewis Carroll’s imaginary world.

Dining with Alice is the Mad Hatter’s tea party on a grand scale, a delicious concoction of theatre and gastronomy in which the audience are both guests at the table and participants in the startling antics and verbal conundrums that take place around them.

The Wonderland hosts escort their guests around the grounds, watched over by the ever-vigilant Alice, who steps in whenever their behaviour becomes too unruly to make sure everyone gets what they deserve.

Conceived and directed by Hilary Westlake, Dining with Alice was originally commissioned by Artichoke co-director Helen Marriage for the 1999 Salisbury Festival. It spearheaded the trend for immersive theatre and proved groundbreaking.

With text by David Gale, music by Frank Millward, production design by Simon Corder, and a cast including Di Sherlock as the Queen of Hearts, Gary Stevens as the White Rabbit and Trevor Stuart as the Mad Hatter, the 2011 production reunites the original cast and production team to weave their magic in the wonderful location of Elsing Hall, a 15th century moated manor house set in serene parkland and normally off-limits to the public.

The experience serves up an unexpected menu of entertainment in unique surroundings, including an al fresco Victorian-style dinner conceived and created by jellymongers Bompas & Parr.

The event is produced by Artichoke in collaboration with Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Norwich Theatre Royal.

18-21 May, Elsing Hall, Dereham, Norfolk.Tickets £55 (including dinner). There are a limited number of VIP tickets available at £85. Contact the festival box office for tickets: 01603 766400 or online: