Alice, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Monday 18 April 2011
Huge expectations for Alice, creative director Ashley Page's first, and last, full-length new work for Scottish Ballet.
Having remade Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty as clever, witty classical-contemporary eye-candy, what would he do with a new score (by Robert Moran) and the fruit-loops world of Lewis Carroll?
Page, whose 10-year contract is not being renewed for reasons no one has yet fathomed, loves a reference, a visual joke, a sideways angle on a story and, on these, Alice does not disappoint. Using Carroll's enthusiasm for photography as the central motif, the White Rabbit pops up through the lens of a giant box-camera and tempts Sophie Martin, in the traditional blue dress, to come too.
In a suprisingly minimal Wonderland, with simple, graphic, sets and a huge wooden slide-frame holding projected images, the young girl encounters the characters of both Alice books. Individually, many are outstanding. Tiny Tomomi Sato, the dyspeptic, knickerbocker-clad White Rabbit, is full of skittery frustration. The Caterpillar is a louche tango-master, lounging beneath his toadstool, muscled haunches glistening in a ruffled velour all-in-one. Humpty Dumpty is a Leigh Bowery baby in yolk-yellow rompers and fried egg hat.
The problem is that Alice is sweet but drippy, Carroll only appears to move things along, and everyone else is a baddie. I am always up for a deliciously vicious Alexander McQueen of Hearts and a toxic insect danced by a man in a spotty tuxedo-tutu. But when there is no light to their shade, no sweetness and romance for them to menace, no clear narrative to justify their venom, it descends into a freakshow.
Alice would have worked better if Page had made a virtue of its episodic nature instead of trying to knit it all together, and left Lewis Carroll on the other side of the camera.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove