Wednesday 12 April 2023

DANCE REVIEW: Wonderland In Alice - Theatre Peckham, London.

'Wonderland In Alice' is a show choreographed by the fabulous Christopher Tendai, staged by his CTC Dance Company, and directed by Lisa Millar. 'Wonderland In Alice' is a wonderful catch for South London and to be housed in such a modern setting is a real coup. This is a working partnership between Christopher Tendai and Theatre Peckham and tonight’s official opening was supported by many of Tendai’s friends and associates. This is a show that is not afraid to touch on mental health issues, identity and LGTBQIA+ and should be celebrated for its uniqueness and bravery. Christopher Tendai has a long list of credits as a West End performer and now as an up-and-coming choreographer who is not afraid to take risks and move performance into the 21st century, touching on previously taboo subjects.

The dancing is engaging from the beginning to the end of the full 70 minutes of the show. You almost want the story to continue just to see the movements of the bodies in front of you. You are swept into the story and the fluidity of movement is a beautiful spectacle to watch. The performers must be given credit here for bringing interpretation and their own personality into their characters.

The music composed by Shaun Rimmer was very atmospheric, with the lighting designed by Thomas Sadler and the set by Damien Stanton, was the key to the exquisite setting in front of us tonight. I loved the neon lights and the suits of cards illuminating the way Alice (Kira Nichols) moved in and out of the set. The narration helped with the story which was somewhat removed from the original Lewis Carroll storyline. The Narrator (Caitlin Taylor) was the only voice of the performance and yet still part of the dance. The characters were familiar but yet different, the Mad Hatter (Cameron Everitt) without a hat and therefore not affected by the mercury in the hat making process was obviously suffering with a craziness from some other means and his interaction with Alice was far more erotic than we are used to. The Cheshire Cat (Ann Chircop Beck) was really effective – the costume and the movements combined to make a very eerie characterisation. The White Rabbit (Mollie Stebbing) was on stage for most of the performance and danced perfectly in sync with Alice and/or impeccably with the ensemble, but successfully let her own personality shine on the stage. But the performance of the evening must go to El Haq Latief as the Queen of Hearts. The Queen was exhilarating and fun and non-binary. The Queen was everything and anything you wanted her to be. This is a diverse cast who have gelled together to create a strong team who deliver a performance with a purpose and a message: Who are you? In fact, you can be anyone or anything, and do not ever be afraid to be your own person.

This is an outstanding mercurial performance by everyone involved. The dancing around a double-sided set gave the performance a 3D effect – dancers moving in and out of the perpetually moving sets was a feast for the eyes. The standing ovation was well deserved. Christopher Tendai also gave a shot Q and A session after the show to fill in the gaps and discuss his vision for the show. If you like modern theatre, new ideas and a creative explosion this is the show for you. This is the future, and this is just what we need to get young and vibrant audiences into our performance spaces.

Reviewer - Penny Curran
on - 11.4.23

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