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.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
The Fall, series 2, episode 3 – TV review: The Gillian Anderson drama is starting to push the realms of plausibility, but who cares?
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'